Everyday Hero: Autistic Scout's project aims to help special needs kids

By Erin Murray, Reporter
Last Updated: Monday, November 13, 2017, 11:47 AM EST

In his brother’s driveway, Elijah Kelly works away on a project to help children with special needs.

  • Eagle Scout candidate aims to help special-needs kids
  • 14-year-old Elijah Kelly is autistic himself
  • 'Read to Sydney' project encourages kids to read to dogs

The 14-year-old boy is far from ordinary himself, and he wanted his Eagle Scout project to match that quality.

This project in the making is dedicated to a movement called "Read to Sydney."

"What meant the most about me to my Eagle project was that it helps kids with special needs, which is the same need that I have," the Eagle Scout said.

Elijah is autistic, and "Read to Sydney" helps children like him. It is a literacy program where kids with special needs read aloud to therapy dogs. The hope is that their reading level improves.

Elijah is building an Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant table, so even kids who use wheelchairs are able to more comfortably read to the therapy dogs as well.

Creating the project is special for him. His brother, who is helping him use the power tools, is a wounded veteran. He lost his leg serving in Iraq, but Elijah did not stop there as he constructed an additional computer table, collected bean bag chairs, dog treats, dog bed, and even 1,000 books.

"Yes, very much, of how fast it came," Elijah says about the donations.

It will be a few more weeks until he is done, but he is happy to put in the time for each and every important detail.

"It signifies autism," he says.