Contributed by Terry Eadie, Team Manager
The Toronto Blue Jays Foundation (Jays Care Foundation) recently approached us about forming a partnership to bring “adaptive baseball” to our organization. So we surveyed staff that had an interest in developing some team approaches to introduce a new way to get our persons served active and participating in sports that they may have never experienced before.
We all agreed that the entire philosophy and approach of this Challenger Baseball opportunity was a great fit for many of our Community Inclusion programs. Therefore, we decided to provide this to staff who could train to be ambassadors and coaches through teaching and mentoring by some very special coordinators from the Blue Jays Care initiative.
“It was an amazing opportunity to be involved in this. The enthusiasm the representatives brought was contagious. Everyone was laughing, we all participated, and the team work was remarkable. With posAbilites this year focusing on connecting with the community, I felt this gave us a lot of tools on how we can achieve this. It was great to do something that was not just about policies and procedures. We were able to see management in a different prospective.” – Stephanie
Teamwork makes the Dream Work
We had a large group of staff from our Denim Pod, Green Pod, Red Pod, and Caramel Pod. This totaled to 35 eager team members willing to move forward with this new initiative! We spent half the day at the Richmond Olympic Oval running, stretching, throwing, and hitting, with countless laughing moments as we learned how to play. The experience made us all feel like kids again.
“When I got to the Richmond Oval I didn’t know what to expect. The two ladies in charge of teaching us did a great job given the size of our group. I found it informative and fun. They talked about new ideas and different ways to make sport inclusive to all abilities. They were able to show us many different exercises and fun activities to keep people engaged. I’m excited about teaching! I felt I learned a lot of new skills that I can help bring to person served.” – Markus
Take me out to the Adaptive Ball Game
Our minds were challenged as we learned how to adapt the sport of baseball into many activities that were inclusive to all of our folks – no matter what challenges they face. It was a great event, bringing staff teams together in a fun and safe environment. This was hosted by two wonderful and talented staff from the Jays Care Foundation. We can’t thank Alysha Socha, Meghan Saundercook, and Joanna Liss enough, who brought this opportunity forward and made it an enjoyable day filled with fun and learning.
“I was so glad to be to attend this Challenger Baseball training session from two amazing facilitators. It was truly about connecting people, trying new experiences, having fun, and learning a little about baseball along the way. So many great tips, tricks, strategies, and inclusive adaptions were learned in our session. I am very excited to move forward in facilitating Challenger Baseball with supported individuals, staff teams, and community.” – Caroline
Team members used sticky notes to document any challenges they see as barriers to adaptive sports, so we could find ways to overcome them.
More Words from our Team
“This workshop was incredibly inspiring and motivating! Jays Care gave us some ideas that we would not have necessarily thought of on our own. They presented creative strategies for learning and participating, and showed us how to use simple items that can be purchased at the Dollar Store to make an activity work.” – Amy
“The two presenters from the Jays Care Foundation were high energy. Lots of engagement with stories and they were open to hear suggestions and answer questions. They were organized and prepared many visuals including the agenda for the day. They were able to squeeze so much into the four hours they were given. It was a fun morning!” – Geoff
“The energy of our workshop leaders was contagious, and the activities and games were both fun and challenging. I also noticed a certain spark in myself and many others that, I believe, will lead to great things with posAbilities‘ new Challenger Baseball initiative.” – Megan
Empowering Athletes with Diverse-abilities
Challenger Baseball is Jays Care’s adaptive baseball program, run in partnership with Little League Canada and Baseball Canada, which is specifically designed to empower children, youth, and adults living with physical and/or cognitive disabilities. The program teaches athletes living with disabilities the core life skills inherent to baseball, including: teamwork, communication, determination, resiliency, inclusion, support, and courage.
Challenger Baseball ensures every athlete has the opportunity to play in a fun and safe environment, where they learn to become more independent, build confidence, improve their communication skills, and set and achieve their own personal goals.
Learning Skills on and off the Field
Athletes with disabilities involved in Challenger Baseball programs increase:
- Self-esteem and self-awareness
- Relationships to peers
- Connection to positive role models
- Their courage to try new challenges
- Likelihood of living a physically active life
- Baseball and physical literacy skills
Jays Care supports coaches, teachers and program implementers with training and coaching resources that give them confidence and skills to launch inclusive, consistent and above all, fun Challenger Baseball programs! In addition to training and coaching manuals, Jays Care provides athletes with t-shirts, hats and adaptive equipment so they can represent their team and community with pride.
Learn how you can get involved with Jays Care Challenger Baseball in your community here.