The Marion [Ohio] Star reports:
Cataya Thornton, a behavioral technician who works with an autistic student at Elgin Junior High School, was originally seeking a few students who would be willing to interact with the student.She started out with two in 2009. By the end of the school year, that had turned into 42. When the school opened it up to volunteers this year, more than 100 students expressed an interest.
Thirty-six students are engaged in the Peer Proximity Program, meant to help Caden Ruth gain academic and social skills. They were chosen after the school turned it into a competition, requiring students who wanted to take part to submit an essay, and received 36 essays in response.
"We were just totally overwhelmed at how many stepped up," said Sherry Ruth, Caden's mom, who said she expected one or two students. "As a parent, I think it's fantastic."