VICTORVILLE (CBSLA.com) — A Victorville teen saw kids playing at Silverado High School when he noticed some kids didn’t want to toss a ball around with some of the students who have autism.
“They were hogging the ball, running away with the ball,” says 16-year-old Jonathan Kelleher. “They were telling them they didn’t want to play with them. The [kids with autism] were kinda sad. They were bummed. They sat in their own little area.”
Kelleher went on a mission and started bouncing his idea around last week.
“I don’t like making people feel like they were left out,” he said to CBS2’s Crystal Cruz.
The teen is looking for donations to get the special needs students at Silverado High School their own equipment.
His mother also went on Facebook and spread the word. They were looking for footballs, soccer balls, kick balls, tennis balls and basketballs.
Kelleher has a soft spot in his heart for anyone with special needs. His little brother also has autism.
“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.”
Principal Heather Conkle thought Kelleher also had a great idea, and she’s helping out. The ultimate goal is to give every kid with special needs their own ball.
“I’ve also offered up a matching program,” Conkle said, “so every ball he receives a donation for that we purchase one in return to sort of double up his efforts.”
Conkle found an empty classroom so that Kelleher will be able to store all his sports equipment.
The school will collect any old sports equipment and is hoping to have a few hundred balls by December.
“I didn’t want it to get this big,” Kelleher says humbly, “because I’m shy.”