An 8-year-old second-grader from Kansas is warming hearts around the world.
A photo of the boy, Christian, is seen consoling an autistic classmate has gone viral. Courtney Coko Moore of Wichita uploaded the picture onto Facebook, WIVB reported.
The photo caption said: “I’m so proud of my son, he [saw] a kid balled up into a corner crying, so he went to console him, grabbed his hand and walked him inside of the school! It is an honor to raise such a loving, compassionate child! He’s a kid with a big heart, the first day of school started off right.”
Boy holds hands of crying classmate with autism on first day of school https://t.co/VR0nncJ6T4
— News 4, WIVB-TV (@news4buffalo) August 27, 2019
The photo was shared thousands of times.
April Crites, the mother of the other boy, was impressed by the second-graders gesture.
Crites said: “Tell your son I said thank you so very much! That little boy he helped is my son and is autistic; I worry every day that he is going to get bullied for being different, and your son just absolutely warmed my heart. If there were more children like him, I wouldn’t worry about such things,” KWCH12 reported.
She hopes the two will become friends.
“I hope that this will be the beginning of a new friendship for both our boys. Your son was so sweet,” she said.
Crites added that her son struggles with speech, as well.
Connor, the crying boy, told KAKE-TV about the encounter
“He was kind to me,” he said. “I started crying, and then he helped me. And, I was happy. … He found me and held my hand, and I got happy tears.”
His mother also said the simple gesture made him quite happy. “That’s all I can ask for, is someone to be open to him like that,” she told ABC News. “I’m so happy that something so positive is coming from all this that my son got a friend. And, hopefully, a friend for life.”
She added that Connor couldn’t speak until he was 5.
“I fear every day that someone’s going to laugh at him because he doesn’t speak correctly or laugh at him because he doesn’t sit still or because he, you know, jumps up and down and flaps his hands,” she said.
5th Graders Protect Boy with Special Needs
A group of fifth-graders decided to lend some much-needed help to a classmate with special needs.
The five—Jack Pemble, Jake Burgess, Gus Gartzke, Tyler Jones, and Landon Kopischke—watched as other kids in their class teased James Willmert, who has special needs.
“They were like, using him and taking advantage of him,” Jake explained, “because he’s easier to pick on, and it’s just not right,” Jack added.
Burgess, who appears to be the leader of the group, made an imposing presence as he accompanied James at the lunch line and to the table where they ate.
The group vowed to keep a close eye on James, and to protect him from any would-be bullies and if need be, to lay down the law.
The impact has already been immense. James is much happier and wants to go outside for recess.
“Why pick on someone,” Jack Pemble, a student, starts to ask, and Jake Burgess finishes his question, “who has special needs?”
“It really kind of makes you proud to be their teacher,” said Mallory Howk, their teacher. She spent the year with the boys as their class teacher.
She said the school’s anti-bullying lessons struck a chord with the kids.
As Jake Burgess told KARE, “He’s an awesome kid to hang out with.”
James’ family was moved by the boys’ display of compassion to her son.
“He used to not want to go out for recess or anything, it would be like a struggle,” stated Margi Willmert, James’ mom. “And now he can barely eat his lunch to get outside to play with those guys.”