Teens With Special Conditions Step Up To Help Communities During Pandemic


  • Many young people with special conditions have come forward to help their communities amidst the pandemic.
  • Sophie Stern, Esteban Barriga, Laura Estrich, are just three examples of young people who have special needs but are contributing a lot to help the needy.
  • Their parents encourage other families to let their kids do some voluntary works or other doable tasks that give them purpose.

Many young people with intellectual and developmental conditions have started doing voluntary works to contribute to the efforts to ease the burden in people’s lives brought about by pandemic. They have cleaned community gardens, cared for elderly people, helped make face masks, and many others.

Sophie Stern, a teenager from Arizona, was born with Down syndrome but she is working hard to achieve her dream in life — to become a dance teacher. “My grandmother is a dance teacher, and she inspired me,” she said.

Photo Credit: Sophie Stern

Amidst the current global health crisis, she decided to start teaching free ballet and contemporary class through Zoom in order to complete her 10-hour community service required by her high school’s health class. She choreographs and performs her routines which her mom also posts on Facebook as a guide for others. Even  actor Sean McElwee of the TV series Born this Way signed up for her classes.

Esteban Barriga from West Roxbury, MA, who was born with autism, saw the poor situation of people with physical disabilities who have lost their jobs due to the lockdowns. They can’t even line up at food banks and he wanted to help them. “He told me, ‘Mom, we have to help people with disabilities who don’t have jobs. They are poor and need lots of help,’” says his mother, Maribel Rueda.

Photo Credit: Esteban Barriga

That’s when he started collecting gift cards and raised $6,500 donations to help people in need and they have fed a total of 80 families.

“Esteban has autism but he is so caring and kind to others,” his mom said. “He feels no one should suffer and we all need to protect one another.”

Photo Credit: Esteban Barriga

Laura Estrich from Corvallis, Oregon, who just graduated from high school, also has Down syndrome. She decided to join her town’s  Disability Equity Center as an intern to put her creativity to use in outreach, advertising, creating online learning materials, resource gathering, and making essays. 

Photo Credit: Laura Estrich

The nonprofit organization’s co-founder, Allison Hobgood, said Laura has been a valuable addition to the family.

“I was born with Down Syndrome,” says Laura. “I do research projects on the internet about people with disabilities. It’s my job and my future.”

Photo Credit: Laura Estrich

Her father  George, suggests that parents of children with disabilities should find meaningful activities for them which would give them purpose. 

“Let teens do as much as they can on their own,” he says. “It’s good if the work is really meaningful, not just an activity to kill time.”

Source: Up Worthy



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