Ciro Ortiz, a sixth-grader from New York, sometimes has a tough time at school.
Like a lot of kids his age, he’s dealt with his fair share of bullying. He says getting picked on doesn’t really bother him; it’s the feeling that he doesn’t fit in.
“Some kids are only nice to you if you are into what they’re into,” he writes in an email. “I’m not going to force myself to be someone I’m not.”
He figured there were a lot of people like him that could use some advice or encouragement, so he decided to do something about it.
Ciro was sitting around watching TV one day when he came up with the idea of doling out advice to stressed-out New York subway-goers.
“I think I’m wise enough to give good advice!” he says. His parents agreed.
At Ciro’s booth, at the Bedford L train stop in Brooklyn, he offers five minutes of advice for $2.00 — a total bargain.
He’s out there for two hours every Sunday, listening to people’s problems regarding work, relationships, and with life in general.
The money Ciro makes — about $50 per week on a busy day — all goes to helping kids at his school who can’t afford to buy snacks or lunch.
His first day out on the platform, Ciro says he was super nervous. But pretty soon, “clients” started coming to him in bunches.
“I didn’t know if people were going to stare or laugh at me,” he says. But then they “saw that I was taking it seriously.”
And, surprisingly, so were they. People were coming to Ciro with real problems, and truly listening to what he had to say.
So far, the reviews are stellar.
“Somebody came up to us and said that what [Ciro] told her is what she’d been feeling in her gut that whole time,” Adam, Ciro’s father, told the New York Post.
Out of the mouths of babes…
The thing that seems to be on most people’s minds? Love, Ciro says.
People either are’t happy with who they’re with or they’re worried they’ll never find the right person.
His absolute best advice: “When you were brought into this world, you were born into someone loving you. Look at it like that.”
As for Ciro himself, he says most of his friends at school don’t understand what he’s doing or why. But that’s OK.
Because now, he has dozens and dozens of new friends he’s met on the L train platform. He’s helped them all by lending a kind ear, and they’ve helped him finally feel like he belongs somewhere.
“Everyone needs help sometimes,” he says. “You can’t get through life without help.”