While you are out and about in your local mall or your local doctors office, you may see a gumball machine.
Simply put in a quarter, turn the knob, and a gumball drops out of the chute. Something you may have not known is that those simple gumball machines sometimes provide benefits to people, even jobs. In this case, four young teenagers by the name of Ronny, Dylan, Jack, and Reshaun have begun lessons in entrepreneurship through these little candy machines.
These young men also happen to have autism spectrum disorder, but they aren’t letting that stop them from learning to become successful like anyone else. Easter Seals, which is a service that reaches out to all people of different disabilities including autism and more, has created a program called “Bubble 2 Work”. Their job is to maintain, re-fill, and collect money from the machines. With that, the seeds are planted and the boys begin to understand how to run a business.
Kelly Anne Ohde of Easter Seals has stated that it’s an opportunity for them to gain real world experience for them.
Gumball machines are located in 17 south suburban establishments in Illinois where people interact with others, including customers and even a state senator, Senator Michael Hastings. Hastings describes that the four teens are “great kids.”
“We traded movie quotes, what’s going on and what it’s like to be a senator,” he says of his relationship to the four young men.
Not only are the teens learning how to run a business which will indefinitely help them in the future, they are also improving their social skills and even learning new things from influential people like Hastings.
And that’s not all. Ronny, Dylan, Jack, and Reshaun’s job training teaches other people about autism. Tony Gloria of Rocco Vino’s Italian Restaurant, where the four work on the gumball machines, welcomes them to eat there on their lunch breaks, saying that they have a “personal understanding.”
In this day in time, we must remember the importance of instilling knowledge into our young people regardless of the challenges they face. All children and teens deserve an equal chance at a bright and successful future.
Taja Kenney, Eerie Community College