It's officially Summer Holidays! School is out. The kids are thrilled to be off, and parents are wondering what they are going to do with them for the next couple of months. Just the idea of Summer Holidays makes me think back to when I was a child. There were family road trips, swimming lessons, picnics in the park, and soccer games (ok, I went to one practice and one game. I hated soccer.). Playing spotlight with the neighborhood kids, beach dates, sleepovers, and summer camps that didn't last long enough (I remember this one time, at band camp...). The options are many, if you have a 'typical' child. There are multitudes of camps and activities to keep the little ones busy. The choices are not so broad when you have a child with special needs. This Summer, however, I am excited to say that Brennen is playing baseball.
Let me say that again. Brennen is playing baseball!! On a team. In a league. With a uniform.
Challenger Baseball is a program that provides an opportunity for children with cognitive or physical disabilities to enjoy the full benefits of participation in baseball at a level structured to their abilities.
Baseball games are played in a fun, safe environment where no score is kept. Able-bodied “Buddies” are assigned (one on one, where possible) to each participant. These Buddies assist the Challenger players with their involvement in the game. Pushing wheelchairs around the base path, assisting players in how to hold the bat and swing, or providing protection for the Challenger player from a batted ball, are just a few of the ways the Buddies offer a better experience for the participants in Challenger Baseball.
Each participant is treated like every other player in the conventional baseball program. All players are outfitted in uniforms, use the same equipment, and play their games at the local baseball parks. Last but not least, the smiles are plentiful and free! The joy on the face of each participant in Challenger Baseball makes it very clear how much fun they are having. No pressures, no playing time issues, everyone just has fun! It's what baseball is supposed to be all about.
Playing in a Challenger division gives players and their families the opportunity to:
- enjoy the thrill of playing baseball
- be part of a team
- develop physical and social skills
- build self esteem
- get exercise while having fun
- make new friends
- meet other children and families in their communities
Objectives of Challenger Baseball are:
- To provide an opportunity for children and youth with cognitive or physical disabilities to enjoy the benefits of playing baseball
- To educate the community that children with cognitive or physical disabilities can play organized baseball, just like their peers
- To help the youth in the community "give back" to society, by getting involved in the Challenger program as "Buddies"
The philosophy of Challenger Baseball is very simple: 'Play, just for fun!!'
And that's exactly what we did!
Benjamin, Brennen and Jenna have been together from Day 1. (They are the 'Friday Friends' I talked about HERE). Our families have seen each other through surgeries, admissions, pneumonias and infections. We've been there for the good days and the not-so-good days. We've celebrated milestones and birthdays and graduations, and more times than I would like to admit, we have consoled each other in the hospital. While taking this photo, we said to each other, "Who would have thought we would be here playing baseball?!"
We are thankful for friends like these. We are thankful for Challenger Baseball for providing opportunities for our children to participate in a team activity. We celebrate the good days, and we are thankful that there are many.
Want to get together on Saturday morning? Oh, sorry I can't. Brennen has baseball!!