It is not unlike ten-year-old Kusa Xiong to look after his older sister, Pahnuly. Pahnuly is 12 years old and has autism.
The two siblings are extremely close, and enjoy playing their family favorite game of Ping-Pong. Pahnuly struggled playing with the family and Kusa wanted to find a solution that would make Ping-Pong more enjoyable and inclusive for her.
Kusa came up with “Aeropong” that eliminates the ball chasing aspect of typical Ping-Pong. The Ping-Pong ball is held from a vertical frame that allows players to volley the ball back and forth rather than chasing the ball around.
The young boy and his dad shared with Dispatch-Argus that originally the game modification was meant for their family to be able to enjoy a game together. His new and fun creation gained so much attention across the United States that it was manufactured by a local toy company.
“We never planned for this,” said Long Xiong, their father, “My son just wants my daughter to have fun, too.”
Since the summer of 2016, when the first Aeropong game was created with the help his family, Kusa has been recognized and awarded for his creation. At just ten-years-old, he won a national toy contest put on by Fat Brain Toys and co-founder, Mark Carson referred to his concept as “simply genius”. Out of 160 entries, Aeropong was one of the winning ideas. This win included $2,500 scholarship, future royalties on every unit sold, and a trip to New York City.
Kusa and his family will soon travel to New York City where his invention will be pitched to major toy stores around the United States.
For the future, Kusa is reminded by his dad, Long Xiong, to continue to look after his sister. Long told StarTribune “I told him that’s one of the biggest jobs he can do”.
According to the Star Tribune article, author Hannah Covington said Kusa would like to become a “creator and businessman” when he grows up.