Every Saturday morning in Drayton, a team of between six to eight players gathers at the Community Christian School in town to play baseball, try soccer or even do a little bowling.
They may not always know the rules of the game, or run the bases in the right order, but for these players it doesn’t matter. The only thing that counts is having fun.
They are the Heavy Hitters, a group of special needs children from the areas of Drayton, Fergus, Elmira and Kitchener-Waterloo formed in 2007 by Heather and Dean Clemmer.
The couple formed the group because their son Troy was born with cerebral palsy and they wanted to give him the opportunity to play sports just like every other child in the area.
“We just thought we would try to do something. We heard of one they used to have in Guelph so I spoke with them about it, and there seemed to be a need in the area,” said Heather.
The team just played T-ball their first year – hence the name Heavy Hitters – but since then they have expanded to include floor hockey, bowling, badminton and volleyball, and many more. They typically play in the gym of the school or out on the grass, and they adjust each sport to meet the needs of each individual child, whose conditions can range from down syndrome to cerebral palsy.
Demand has grown so much that last year they decided to bump their meetings up from every other week to every Saturday. Sessions usually last only an hour before the kids tire themselves out.
The group starts up in late May and typically runs until the end of August. They have received funding from the Drayton and Community Citizens’ Association since they started, and this year for the first time the Kinsmen also pitched in some funding as well to help cover some of the costs of the t-shirts and equipment,
as well as year-end medals and trophies.
Parents who bring their children every week love the program.
“Sometimes it’s harder for children with special needs to partake in sports and I think it’s a really good program, there aren’t many rules it’s just easy going,” said Maggie Hiebert, whose four-year-old daughter Karlita has down syndrome.
“It’s a good place for her to interact with other children and it’s very good for her to help develop her motor skills.”
Participation in the Heavy Hitters is free for parents who want to bring their kids, parents just take turns bringing a snack every week, and siblings are also welcome to join in the fun, said Heather, adding that they are always looking for more volunteers and that any age is welcome.
For more information visit their website, www.apinkypromise.com/T-ball.html.