by Ami Maxine Irmen
When I was five, my time was spent mostly reading books, playing out in the yard with my family (we were big fans of whiffle ball and touch football), and probably trying to convince my older sister that I was indeed cool enough to warrant some attention from her.
What I wasn’t doing was teaching myself to crochet and creating a business that ultimately resulted in 234,000 Instagram followers and a YouTube channel with 62,000 subscribers. Though to be fair, neither of these platforms existed when I was five.
Thankfully, today they do. For all that we have to gripe about regarding the internet and social media, it has also brought us many bright spots – Jonah Larson being one of them.
I remember first hearing about Jonah when a video of his quick hands showed up on my Facebook feed. At the age of five, he taught himself how to crochet, watching how-to videos and learning more and more complex techniques and patterns. By the age of 11, people had started taking notice – and suddenly, Jonah was a star. The demand for his crocheted items became so overwhelming that his mom stopped counting at 4,500 requests in one month and the shop was closed in order for Jonah to pursue other partnerships under the name Jonah’s Hands, LLC.
It doesn’t take long to become charmed by young Jonah or to see the kindness in his heart. Jonah spent the first few months of his life in an orphanage in Ethiopia before he was adopted, and now he works closely with Roots Ethiopia, a non-profit organization that works to support rural schools with needed resources and to help mothers access resources that aid in identifying their strengths and building their entrepreneurial skills. “There are other kids just like me, living in the country in which I was born,” Jonah notes on his GoFundMe page that he is using to raise funds for Roots Ethiopia and for a chance to return to the village where he was born. “I want to hand children in Ethiopia the chance to unlock their own passion and potential.”
You see, long before Jonah became an internet sensation, crocheting aided in his own potential, giving him a way to quiet his busy mind. After many calls from his school noting behavioral issues (talking too much in class, not allowing other students a chance to finish their work), his teacher asked Jonah’s mom to let him bring his crochet work to school with him. With his hands busy, he was better able to focus in class – and his parents haven’t received a single call from the school since. And “[a]fter a very hard, busy, chaotic day in this busy world with school, it’s just nice to know that I can come home and crochet in my little corner of the house while sitting by the one I love most: my mom,” Jonah noted in an interview with NPR.
“I hope what people gain from seeing my work is it makes them happy, too,” Jonah says. “When I see my crochet work when it’s done, it blows my mind to know that I, an 11-year-old with a tiny hook and a ball of yarn, made this amazing afghan, scarf, cowl, you name it.”
Last summer, Jonah had the opportunity to fly to Los Angeles for a chance to tape a promotional video for Little Big Shots, a new show coming to NBC where Melissa McCarthy spends time with the next generation of remarkable kids. She notes in the promotional video that “you don’t have to be big to be a big deal.” The premier episode, featuring Jonah Larson, aired on Monday. Don’t worry, if you didn’t see it, it will re-air March 1. If you aren’t yet familiar with Jonah, tune in and see why he is so remarkable.
So what’s next for Jonah? “[A]ttending a crochet summer camp, attending the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and then becoming a surgeon.”