Who says superheroes are only in comic books? Meet some inspiring kids who recently helped make the world a safer place for others.

Foiling a school shooting

On September 30, 2015, a group of students in Northern California foiled a plot to shoot up their high school.

The teens overhead three students discussing a detailed plan to open fire on Summerville Union High School in Tuolumne, California, about 120 miles from San Francisco, according to the New York Times. Officials later said the plot included names of would-be victims and how to eliminate them.

The students who heard the chilling details immediately told a teacher, who alerted school administrators. The administrators quickly pulled the three students involved in the plot out of class, along with a forth student identified as part of the conspiracy, and called the police. The four students were in the process of obtaining weapons and confessed to the plot, according to police detectives.

“They were going to come on campus and shoot and kill as many people as possible,” Tuolumne County Sheriff James W. Mele told the Modesto Bee. “It is particularly unsettling when our most precious assets — which are our students, their teachers — are targets for violence.”

The students reported the plot just a day before a school shooting at a community college in Oregon left 10 people dead, including the shooter.

Rallying around a special needs student

Even when schools have an anti-bullying program, it’s hard to stop bullies from teasing and picking on special needs students. That’s what happened to James Willmert at Franklin Elementary School in Mankato, Minnesota. But that all changed when a group of five boys in his fifth-grade class took him under their wing and made him part of their gang.

The boys — Gus, Tyler, Landon, Jake and Jack — began involving James in impromptu games of touch football in the schoolyard, invited him to their table at lunch and talked with him about college sports teams, his favorite subject, according to a USA Today video posted on YouTube. One was awestruck to find out that James had a list of more than 600 college teams in his notebook.

“He just did not want to go out to recess, and now he can barely eat his lunch to get outside to play with those guys,” said James’ mother in the video.

In fact, James now loves basketball and practicing hoop shots. “They’re changing him,” his mother marvels. Recalling a visit that the boys made to bring James a Playstation and some video games, she said, “It was James’ first visit by a friend. Everyone was smiling like crazy…I’ll never forget it. Never.”

In the video, one of his new friends says James is “an awesome kid to hang out with.” Meanwhile, James’ eyes light up as he talks about his posse. Throwing the ball for a pass during a football game with “the James gang,” he turns to the camera in glee. “These guys are the best friends anyone could ask for…I love you guys,” he says.

The five boys told a USA Today interviewer that they didn’t see any reason people should bully kids because they learn differently than others. James “was easier to pick on, and that’s just not right,” one said.

Diana is an award-winning writer and editor with more than 20 years' experience in magazine, video, book and digital journalism, with a specialty in health coverage. She was a longtime writer and news editor at the Center for Investigative Reporting; has written for publications from the Washington Post to the Times of London syndicate; and has served as a senior and/or consulting editor at Time Inc. Health, Hippocrates, HealthDay News Service and Reporting on Health. She was also editor in chief of Consumer Health Interactive, a national health and medical web site, and has reported on finance for Blueshift Research and PBS Frontline. Before joining SafeBee, she was editor of Bioenergy Connection, a national magazine about bioenergy at UC Berkeley. Her favorite safety tip: Wear a bike helmet.