Creating an environment where all kids felt included was the mission of Jonathan Kelleher, a teenager at Silverado High School in Victorville, CA. After noticing that some kids with autism were being left out of games on the field, he was determined to see change happen on his school campus as CBS Los Angeles reported recently.
“They were hogging the ball, running away with the ball,” says Jonathan. “They were telling them they didn’t want to play with them. The [kids with autism] were kinda sad. They were bummed.”
Kelleher, who has a brother with autism, felt he should do something about the situation. “I wouldn’t want them to look at him like he is different,” he says. “I would want them to look at him like he’s a person.” So he began asking for used sports equipment to be donated so the special needs students could have their own to use. “I don’t like making people feel like they were left out,” Kelleher says. His mother also posted her son’s new initiative on Facebook to ask for footballs, soccer balls, basketballs, tennis balls, and kick balls.
Word reached Silverado High School Principal Heather Conkle who decided to also contribute to this great cause. For every donation Jonathan receives, the she will purchase one in return. It’s a joint effort to make Silverado a place that welcomes everyone. Conkle also found a vacant classroom where the equipment could be stored, which is quickly beginning to pile up.
The goal is to provide every kid their own ball and the school will collect any old sports equipment. They are hoping to receive a few hundred balls by December and it looks like they’re well on their way.
“I didn’t want it to get this big,” Jonathan says humbly, “because I’m shy.” Despite his humility, Jonathan’s big heart and enormous courage are making a difference on the high school campus, and will certainly be an example to many teenagers about the importance of seeing one another through the lens of kindness, not difference.