YCDSB teams up with Jays Care Foundation to empower students with cognitive and physical disabilities through baseball

The York Catholic District School Board (YCDSB) and the Jays Care Foundation has teamed up to host the Challenger Baseball program in more than 20 YCDSB schools. The adaptive baseball program is designed to empower children and youth living with cognitive and/or physical disabilities.

The program provides athletes with the opportunity to learn and enhance their life skills, including communication, resiliency, building relationships and leadership, all through the power of sport.

“It’s so important that we continue to create inclusive environments in our schools,” says Adam Sanderson, Vice Principal at St. Joseph CES in Markham. “This program is unique because it offers students who don’t get many opportunities to participate in sports to be active, embed social skills and peer interaction, all while having a tremendous amount of fun doing it.”

Last week, St. Joseph CES hosted more than 60 educators across York Catholic at the inaugural staff training. These educators will take their learnings back to their schools and run the program throughout the school year. At the workshop, staff learned about supportive and positive behavioural techniques, modification methods to play challenger baseball and participated in inclusive drills.

The Jays Care Foundation reports the following:

  • 98 per cent of coaches said that training gave them the skills and knowledge they need to be a great Challenger Baseball coach
  • 82 per cent of parents/guardians reported that their child is more confident in their physical skills since participating in Challenger Baseball
  • 88 per cent of athletes reported that Challenger Baseball makes them feel like they can do anything if they try their best

“After meeting all the staff at the training session, I left feeling incredibly inspired. It’s truly amazing to see so much effort being put forth by the staff to build and enhance quality and sustainable recreational programs in their schools for children and youth living with physical and/or cognitive disabilities,” says Alysha Kavanagh, Manager of Inclusive Programs and Outreach at the Jays Care Foundation.

The lasting takeaway message comes from Grade 7 student, Nicholas, who said “I like all the fun games. I really like when the ball comes my way and I catch the ball perfectly and they all cheer. It makes me feel really happy.”