Boy with autism learns life skills through volunteering

Central Point, Ore. — A local teenager is dedicating his time to help those in need, but he’s also getting something in return.

Every Thursday, volunteers meet up at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church to sort food for families in need.

However, it’s not just about volunteering for Kenny… it’s about learning life skills.

Kenny is known as a friendly, outgoing and adventurous teenager who loves to collect stuffed animals.

But there’s something about Kenny that often makes him stand out from the crowd.

“Kenny has autism which means that he has some… No physical disabilities at all, but he has cognitive delays. Especially in communication… Receptive and expressive communication. Social skills… Understanding what’s appropriate,” Kenny’s father, John Mainwaring said.

Every Thursday, Kenny volunteers for four hours packing food for those in need.

He likes to help others, but his father says it’s been a great opportunity for him to learn life skills.

“Teamwork, appropriate interactions with other people, how to get along with other people, when it’s appropriate to goof off, and when a person needs to buckle down and do work,” Mainwaring said.

Kenny’s father, John Mainwaring, says Kenny doesn’t understand the value of money, so every time he does well, he earns a new stuffed animal.

According to Mainwaring, Kenny’s social skills have grown a lot since he started volunteering in early January.

He hopes Kenny will eventually be able to hold a job and be independent.

“Despite his disabilities, he can get involved and be out in the community, and hopefully be a great asset to the community. Doing things like he’s doing right here, volunteering,” Mainwaring said.

Kenny’s father says autistic people also have strong areas where they excel way beyond the average person.

Kenny learned how to ride a bike in just one day, and he also has a photographic memory.

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