Jared is learning to greet strangers, shake hands, look people in the eyes, and his therapist, Susanna, at Children’s Village is very proud of his progress. Jared lives in a world of the Autism Spectrum which makes daily interactions with people, especially strangers, scary and difficult.
Last June as the school year ended, Susanna asked Jared what would excite and motivate him? His answer: a super-powered water balloon launcher! At that same time, a business nearby Children’s Village asked if their employees could take on a volunteer project to benefit the kids being served. Aha! The Morgan Stanley team lead by Sonia, Business Service Manager (and engineered by her neighbor) Jared’s Incredible Water Balloon launcher came to life!
On the hottest day of the year, we were taken to Susanna’s therapy room where she had been prepping Jared to being introduced to a crowd of strangers who would witness his first launch. There was no shyness, no reservations, just a firm handshake from a boy who was bursting with excitement to finally get to see those balloons sail! Outside we all walked where the launcher lay ready. And sail, they did! His grandmother stood by proudly, marveling at her usually quiet grandson as he enthusiastically pulled waaaaayyyy back, and WHOOOOSHHHHHH! KERSPLATTT! HOORRRAAAYYY!!! Further and further his water balloons flew and hit with a satisfying explosion of water and vapor in the hot air.
Susanna has found the launcher to be a “super fun therapy tool this summer.” She also added that “we have brought it out on the last day of the Girls’ Group and for other individual therapies where it has worked it’s magic to motivate or win over kids who need something a little out of the ordinary to do their work this summer.”
Jared’s water balloon launcher is a wonderful example of how one boy’s dream was fulfilled by a dedicated and creative therapist, a group of community business partners wishing to give back, a stranger with a little PVC pipe and rubber tubing, and a village.