To learn about our efforts to improve the accessibility and usability of our website, please visit our Accessibility Information page. Skip to main content

Challenger Baseball

Jays Care Foundation believes that all Canadian children and youth of all abilities deserve access to the programming they need to thrive and succeed. One way we are working to achieve this goal is through CHALLENGER BASEBALL.

What is Challenger Baseball?

Challenger Baseball is an adaptive baseball program designed specifically to empower children and youth living with cognitive and/or physical disabilities. The program is designed to teach children and youth the core life-skills inherent to baseball including: teamwork, communication, determination, resiliency, inclusion, support and courage. Challenger Baseball is a fun and inclusive league that ensures every participant can play in a safe environment and set and achieve their own personal goals. This unique partnership between Baseball Canada, Little League Canada and Jays Care Foundation is creating opportunities for more children to be a part of a team.

What is the Challenger Baseball philosophy?

At Challenger, we believe that every baseball practice and game should provide an opportunity for all children to:

  • Work and play with others;
  • Develop strong and lasting relationships with peers and coaches;
  • Learn new skills and improve existing ones;
  • Learn more about themselves, their abilities and their potential;
  • Learn to be a contributing member of a group;
  • Develop self-confidence and self-efficacy; and
  • Take risks and have fun!

What does the program involve?

In order to ensure that the Challenger Baseball experience is profound for all children and youth involved, Jays Care devotes significant time, expertise, training and coaching to all volunteers who are motivated to implement the program. Here's what we do:

1. EXPRESSION OF INTEREST:

Community members who want to volunteer to lead or support a Challenger program in their community contact the Challenger Baseball program at Jays Care at lauren.simeson@bluejays.com to express their interest.

 

2. PROGRAM DESIGN:

Jays Care staff work with volunteers to connect them with local existing Challenger programs or to design a tailor-made Challenger Baseball program that reflects their unique needs.

 

3. TRAINING & CURRICULUM:

Every Challenger coach will be invited to attend a two day interactive and dynamic training workshop on how to plan, lead and assess an inclusive baseball for development program. This training includes access to innovative, well-researched and appropriate resources that volunteer coaches can refer to when planning their weekly programming.

 

4. REQUIRED ENABLERS:

Where funds are required to launch a program, Jays Care offers funding over four years to help initiate and sustain a viable Challenger Baseball program and culture within a community. Jays Care also provides access to essential adaptive baseball equipment for children and youth to participate in the program.

 

5. RELIABLE PROGRAMMING:

Each Challenger Coach makes a commitment to implement a minimum of 2-4 hours of inclusive Challenger Baseball programming per week, for eight or more weeks of the year.

 

6. ON-THE-GROUND COACHING:

Jays Care staff offer on-the-ground coaching and support visits to volunteer coaches who request additional guidance as they launch their program.

 

7. MEASURE OUTCOMES & ADJUST:

Using child-friendly measurement tools, volunteer coaches work with participants and families to assess the successes and challenges of each program in an effort to ensure that we are always growing and improving the quality of our programs.

 

What does the program look like for players?

Any player who signs up to be a part of Challenger can expect the following:

  • To be outfitted in a Challenger uniform;
  • To have access to adaptive baseball equipment;
  • To participate in a series of baseball and drills and skills led by their coaches, with support from their buddies;
  • To meet other players and get to know them through fun and interactive games and activities;
  • To engage in discussions related to the weekly themes;
  • To be supportive coaches and buddies who work to adapt each part of the program to best fit each player's needs;
  • To play an adapted game of baseball;
  • To be involved in an end-of-season party; and
  • To have fun!

Players who are able to travel to Toronto are invited to register for the Challenger Baseball National Jamboree which takes place on the field at Rogers Centre.

How to get involved?

SIGN UP TO BE A PLAYER:

If you (or your child) is aged 6 to 18 and living with a physical or mental disability, you are eligible to apply to be a Challenger player. Send an email to lauren.simeson@bluejays.com to find out about the program nearest you.

 

SIGN UP TO BE A BUDDY:

If you (or your child) is 10 years old or older and motivated and able to be a supportive buddy to 1 to 2 players on a Challenger team, send an email to lauren.simeson@bluejays.com. Buddies need to commit to attending weekly practices, bringing a positive attitude and being open to developing strong and supportive relationships with all of the players on the team. Some of the roles of a buddy may include:

  • Assisting players using wheelchairs around the base paths;
  • Cheering on players and encouraging them to set personal goals;
  • Practicing drills and skills with players;
  • Assisting players in how to hold the bat and swing; and/or
  • Providing protection for the Challenger player from a batted ball

 

SIGN UP TO BE A COACH:

If you want to have the amazing and fulfilling opportunity to help us facilitate a successful Challenger Baseball program by being a coach and mentor to a group of inspiring children and youth, please contact us at lauren.simeson@bluejays.com. We will help you get your program started and/or connect you to a local program near you to further support.

 

Lauren Simeson
Challenger Baseball Program Manager
(416) 341-1128
lauren.simeson@bluejays.com