North Delta Football Club (NDFC) and North Delta Baseball Association (NDBA) are collaborating on a new, multi-sport program designed for youth with disabilities.
Beginning this fall, children and teens will be able to take part in the Challenger Sports Clinic, an outdoor soccer/baseball combo program with on-field support from community volunteers.
Both NDFC and NDBA see an unmet need in North Delta for a wide range of sports programs for children and teenagers with disabilities. While some of them are able participate in existing programs albeit with some extra support, other would-be participants require additional program modifications to provide a positive experience that keeps them coming back each season.
The two clubs see the new partnership as an important first step in developing an inclusive sports community for everyone in North Delta, adding it supports the vision of National AccessAbility Week, celebrated May 30 to June 5.
“It’s extremely important for our community to provide an environment for everyone to enjoy sport,” NDFC vice-president Mark Kerr said in a press release. “As the saying goes, it takes a village, but we can get a simple program started and then put together a one-, two-, three-year plan to grow, including other local sports associations, and ultimately give these kids an experience they will never forget.”
The NDBA has had several years of success with its Challenger Baseball program, which will act as a launching point for expanded adaptive sports programs in North Delta. Run each spring as part of a national program, Challenger brings together school-age kids and young adults with a range of disabilities — including Down syndrome, autism and cerebral palsy. The on-field program relies on the generosity of community members who volunteer their time to be one-on-one buddies with the athletes.
“The Challenger program is a fantastic program that lets kids do what they love: swinging the bat, running the bases, having fun and making friends,” NDBA Challenger Division Representative Sheryl Gray said in a press release. “The amazing side benefit has been the coming together of the community, from families of kids with disabilities making new connections to our energetic volunteers who are eager to share their love of sport and make a difference in a child’s life. Many of these volunteers are youth themselves.”