Columbus teen creates support group for siblings with disabilities
COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - Michael Malone of Columbus is not your typical teen.
While he enjoys sports, especially playing baseball, he also likes to engage with the community.
“Whether it’s volunteering with Spanish speaking students at River Road Elementary or volunteering at Fox Elementary with Agricola, anything I can do to help the community is what interests me,” explained Michael.
Both volunteer programs were in full swing before the pandemic hit and facilitated through Brookstone School where Michael is a high school junior.
“Normally, people do not like to talk about it. I know that I am a victim of this. I don’t like to say to everyone, I have brothers with disabilities,” he added.
With the community in mind, Michael recently started his own organization called, Chattahoochee Valley Sibling Support Group. Michael said, “I just want people know that I can embrace it and know that my brothers are not mentally ill or sped but they are unique in their own way.”
Michael has four younger brothers, quadruplets, with autism who are now 13 years old. “My siblings are really active and they like to do anything to get out of the house, whether that be go to Launch with our caregivers or go to watch a movie, recalled Michael.”
But Michael admits their outgoing personalities can sometimes be challenging for him, his father, and those around them. “Maybe they’ll do something that they think is fun and others may feel uncomfortable,” he said. And that’s why he’s hoping his support group will help bridge the gap between the community and those with disabilities.
“It’ll aid people in public to be like, ‘oh, I know that kid. I’m going to space out and make myself interactive with them to make them feel in a more safer environment.’”
Michael has partnered with the local Easteseals West Georgia located on Double Churches Road in Columbus to coordinate his efforts in assisting the community.
He’s also a member of the Columbus Chapter of Jack and Jill of America, Inc. President Pamela Watson said she was not at all caught off guard when she learned about Michael’s efforts to start his own support group.
“Honestly, not surprised. Of Course, to any other in the community, they may be blown away or astonished, but because we develop leaders, he would be the perfect person for it because he has siblings who are differently abled,” said Watson.
Michael was recently named Teen of the Month for his “noteworthy character and outstanding service” by the Southeastern region of the Jack & Jill organization.
His support group can be found on YouTube and most social media platforms if you’d like to contact his organization for support.
Days after News Leader 9 interviewed Michael, his mother Kelly Malone died. She leaves her five children and husband, Dr. Thomas Michael Malone, an OBGYN, serving Columbus and Alabama, to mourn her death. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family.
Copyright 2021 WTVM. All rights reserved.