8th Grader at SPMS Wins Grant to Provide Opportunity for Developmentally-Delayed Kids

He is only 13 years old, but Connor Wang is already finding creative ways to contribute to his community.


Tomorrow, at Stronghold Climbing Gym in Los Angeles, Wang and a team of volunteer climbers will lead eight developmentally-delayed kids in their first attempts at rock climbing. The event, along with a follow-up climbing session on Jan. 6, will be funded entirely by a $500 Disney Summer Service Grant Wang applied for in August.

The 8th grader believes rock climbing will help members of the group, some of whom are autistic, others of whom have Down syndrome or other developmental challenges, with their hand-eye coordination, which in turn will increase their confidence.

An indoor rock climber himself, when he was in 6th grade Wang took an autistic cousin of his climbing and saw not only that his cousin enjoyed the activity, but that he excelled at it as well. This past summer, Wang interned at the gym as part of a summer camp program. So, when the South Pas Tiger Cub was mulling over potential volunteer opportunities this past summer, the Disney grant seemed to provide the perfect opportunity to offer more kids the experience Wang was able to provide his cousin.

In order to gather a group of kids who might be fit to participate in this event, he sent a questionnaire to LA-area organizations–including the Autism Society–that work with developmentally-delayed kids. The kids participating are all from the LA area and are between eight and 18 years of age.

The funds from the grant will go toward purchasing gym day passes for each of the kids. The group is small enough for Wang and his volunteers to provide adequate attention to the individuals.

The event will begin tomorrow at Stronghold Gym in Los Angeles. It is not open to the public.