Story by Debbi Casini Klein | Audio edited by Louis D’Aria
Eleven-year old Sophie Levitt knew she wanted to do a bat-mitzvah project that would make an impact on children’s lives. Thoughts of her cousin Marla, who is also 11 years old and has autism, sparked an idea.
Marla has an iPad which has been a great entertaining and learning tool for her.
“She uses an iPad at home to look up recipes because she likes to cook,” Sophie said. “And then at school she uses it to learn. IPads keep her calm and help her to learn differently than the teachers.”
Her close relationship with her cousin lead to her creation of “Electronics for Autism,” and she began raising money to buy iPads to for kids with autism.
With the help of her family, Sophie began getting the word out through social media. She also passed out fliers at her temple and even met with the representatives at the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and passed out fliers at the autistic-friendly performance of “The Lion King” in December.
As a result, Sophie has already raised more than $3,900, enough for eight IPads.
“I saw that Marla used the iPads, so buying them and giving them to kids with autism would help them to learn,” she said.
The first three iPads were donated to Pathfinders School, a school for autistic children and other disabilities. Sophie’s goal is to raise at least 18 iPads by continuing to pass out fliers at various events and through her new website, www.electronicsforautism.com.
Her parents, Lee and Karen Levitt are very proud of all that Sophie has accomplished.
“We’ve seen that Sophie is absolutely full of love and compassion for others” said Lee Levitt, Sophie’s dad. “When she was able to experience actually handing an iPad over to a school and to children that came to receive them that had autism, that had the challenges of their everyday life, you could see the glow in her eye that she realized that she was making a difference.”
“Even if people are kinder to other people who are different from them because of this project, or because they watched Sophie interact with people, that’s what I think will make a difference” said her mom, Karen. “Just watching the way she interacts with people as well as the idea of everybody has something to give back to the community, whether you’re 11 or whether you’re 81, you have something to give back to the community.”