Long Island teen gives children with autism the opportunity to volunteer by tie-dying joggers

DIX HILLS, New York -- While quarantining during the peak of the coronavirus pandemic, 17-year-old Emma Klein wanted to find a way to give back.

However, not only did she give back to the community, she created a space for children with autism to have a chance to give back as well.

Klein wanted to connect two communities, one with special needs and one faced with life's hardships to come together for a positive result.

Collaborating with Bake Back America, an organization created during the pandemic, Klein launched "Joggers for Juniors".

An initiative that includes and empowers children with special needs to be able to give back and volunteer.

Through tie-dying joggers, the volunteers will connect with children in need all across Long Island's shelters.

"It makes me feel amazing because I think everybody deserves something to wear and to have," said Sydney Alper, a volunteer. "I think people with disabilities are also the same people without disabilities, so I think they should do the same thing."

Klein has tie-dyed over 200 pairs of joggers with her volunteers, which will be donated to three local shelters on Long Island.

Related: Dance program for people with special needs boosts self-confidence and joy!

Not only is Klein making an impact on Long Island, but also teens from across the country have reached out to see how they can start their Joggers for Juniors initiative in their hometowns as well.

"Emma put a Tik Tok video out and it went viral which was so exciting, said Elizabeth Klein, her mom. "Now she's inspiring teenagers all over the United States to be doing Joggers for Juniors in their state."

Related: Long Island's South Fork Bakery provides people with disabilities full-time jobs

Klein hopes that Joggers for Juniors will continue to grow and encourage more people with autism to volunteer and feel needed across the country.

"I can't believe how far this has spread and I'm so proud that I am a part of this," said Klein. "Our message is about inclusion, so whoever we can include definitely we want to involve. All about empowering and including everywhere."
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