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Red Deer Minor Baseball’s Challenger Program sees growth in second year

The program takes part every Monday
The Red Deer Minor Baseball Association is in its second year of offering the Challenger Baseball Program which offers kids with cognitive or physical disabilities learn and have fun playing baseball. (Photo by Red Deer Minor Baseball/ Facebook)

In just its second year the Challenger Baseball Program has seen continued success.

Started last season by the Red Deer Minor Baseball Association the program has grown into everything they hoped it would be.

“It’s an inclusive, interactive program that not only benefits the registrants and their families but also our RDMBA AA and AAA teams that volunteer as baseball buddies for our amazing players,” said Red Deer Minor Baseball general manager Renae Clark.

It provides children with physical or cognitive disabilities the opportunity to play the game they love.

The program takes place at Great Chief Park every Monday which began on May 29th and the year-end event will be on July 17th. Children aged six to 18 can take part in the program for free. However, registration is now closed and will reopen in the new year for the 2024 season.

The eight-week program is done across the country in coordination with Jays Care and Baseball Canada.

The participants are assigned a baseball buddy who assists them in learning the game. Some of the activities include running the bases alongside their buddy and helping them hold and swing the bat.

The buddies consist of players from the U18 and U15 AA and AAA baseball teams within the association. They volunteer their time to make it a fun and rewarding experience for everyone involved.

“Each Monday includes a combination of two 15U and 18U AA and AAA teams as well as our four facilitators, myself, Lorne Bates, Shauna Giesbrecht, and Teresa Andersen,” Clark said.

“This year we were also fortunate enough to have the U15A / U17A Red Deer Rage teams join us one evening as well.”

They’ve also seen some slight growth this year. In 2022 they had 25 registrants and this season it increased to 30.

The feedback we have received from our Challenger athletes and their families has been nothing short of absolutely amazing,” she added.

“We feel the impacts to all involved in this wonderful program are very positive. Our players enjoy the format of baseball skill stations, followed up with a game to end each evening. The families are given the opportunity to watch their players participate with the help of our baseball buddies.

“And for our RDMBA players, they are learning how important it is to give back to their association and their community.”

Ian Gustafson

About the Author: Ian Gustafson

Ian began his journalism career as a reporter in Prince Albert, Sask. for the last three years, and was born and raised in Saskatchewan.
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