Playing guitar helps Johnstown teen with intellectual disabilities

Local News

If you walk down 10th Street in Johnstown’s Cambria City neighborhood, you might see Jon Bailey with a guitar and pick in hand, and a tip bucket near his feet.

The 13-year-old sits across from the Sheetz on Broad Street almost every day, playing some of his favorite tunes.

Smoke on the Water, AC/DC, TNT, and 21 Guns,” Bailey said.

He’s also trying to make a little money.

“Gonna save it up. I might buy an amp for my guitar,” he said.

The Johnstown teenager’s music is more than a fun hobby and a way to make some cash. It’s also helping him overcome his troubled past. Jon has intellectual disabilities and behavioral problems, so playing the guitar is a positive outlet.

A Facebook video of Jon playing the guitar went viral. It was viewed more than 22,000 times. Many people wrote comments encouraging Jon to keep practicing.

Jon’s family said they can’t believe the attention and support their rock star is getting.

“Somebody gave him a $100 bill. I guess a lot of people give him money,” said Kevin Bailey, Jon’s cousin. “It’s better than him going out fighting and robbing and stealing. Nowadays, there’s a lot of young kids dying. He’s just sitting at a corner making a couple dollars.”

Kevin said he hopes this experience is a lesson for Jon that positive things can happen.

“Positive energy attracts positive energy. And that’s what this is doing: showing him that good things come whenever you do good things.”

“Everybody’s liking my stuff, and all the people out there: you’re my fans,” said Jon. “It’s awesome.”

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February 07 2021 06:30 pm

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