Bonita Springs teen creates apps to help community with special needs

Bonita Springs teen John Ciocca wanted to help his brother Christian Ciocca, who was born with Down syndrome. Now, he’s helping thousands of people with special needs by creating free, easy-to-use apps. The Ciocca Apps slogan is “Write the code. Change the World.”

“I want to keep building stuff that is helping make a difference,” Ciocca said.  “Growing up with Christian inspired me to build projects that would be able to help him.” 

Ciocca said he taught himself to code as a student at Estero High School and launched his first app when he was 16 years old.  

“MyVoice and youBelong are both inspired by my brother Christian, who has Down syndrome,” Ciocca said. “MyVoice allows students with autism or any speech disability to communicate, so they can take their thoughts because they can’t verbalize it, type it down and then have it spoken aloud.”

Ciocca says his brother uses the youBelong app almost every day as an alternative social media created to lower cyber bullying while allowing people to connect. More than 1,700 people are already using the app, and it earned Ciocca Microsoft’s sponsorship.   

“What makes a father happy is the fact that most of this stuff he did, he didn’t do it for himself,” said John Ciocca of his son’s accomplishments as a coder.  

Ciocca has already created three dozen apps, and he plans to continue coding at Florida Gulf Coast University.  

“When somebody says what I made did help them out or did make a difference at least to one user, that’s what keeps me going,” Ciocca said.

MyVoice and youBelong are available now on Apple and Android through Google Play 

 

Reporter:Melinda Lee
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