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City of Pismo Beach moves bench for 10-year-old with special needs

shell beach bench.PNG
Posted at 10:38 PM, Sep 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-17 12:00:14-04

Joey Scangarello is a 10-year-old Shell Beach resident, with special needs and a love for routines.

"After our dinner, we go for our nightly walks and he gravitates to here because that's where the people are," Gianni Scangarello, Joey's dad, said.

Night after night, Joey goes out of his way to spread joy to others on Shell Beach Road and Morro Avenue by waving or giving his thumbs up.

"With COVID-19 and people being forced to be outside more, it gives him another opportunity to be around more people. Joey is non-verbal but he still has an amazing way to still communicate," Kristen Scangarello, Joey's mom, said.

One thing has been holding him back from being more comfortable on the streetscape: the benches are facing the sidewalk and not the street. So Joey's family asked the city if the bench on Shell Beach and Morro could be moved.

"Inclusion is such an important part of who we are as a community and being able to do this small thing is something we knew would be feasible, we knew would be important and make a significant impact in someone's life," Jorge Garcia, Spokesperson for the city of Pismo Beach, said.

On Wednesday, city crews came to move the bench just for Joey.

"When people come and enjoy all the amenities [in Shell Beach], I hope they see that this bench is a little different and it reminds them that not everything in this world needs to be symmetrical, not everything needs to fit between the lines; sometimes things need to be a little different and it's okay and it's welcome," Garcia said.

Joey's family says they hope this moment will prompt people to consider ways they can spread kindness in their own neighborhoods.