a blog about raising a daughter with cerebral palsy and learning unexpected lessons along the way

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Buddy Ball

Over the years, we have always been open minded and in search of activities that are appropriate and beneficial for Oia and her present level of needs. All activities we have ever exposed Oia to in the past have required the involvement of an adult to assist, closely monitor, etc. to ensure that Oia is always safe, first and foremost, and to ensure that she is properly engaged in whatever the social setting is. Almost anything is possible in Oia's world when she has a shadow, a second set of eyes/hands, a buddy.
A flyer for Buddy Ball came home in Oia's backpack late this winter and I didn't hesitate to sign her up. Much like learning to ride a bike is a rite of passage into childhood, so is being involved in some sort of extra curricular activity that, for us, is not driven by some therapeutic motive but instead for the sheer fun of it. Think ballet, piano, voice lessons, t-ball. We've chosen the latter for our busy bee, thanks to Coach Wade and his dedication to Buddy Ball.
The concept of Buddy Ball is simple. Any child with challenges, regardless of age, can play on the same T-ball team where the players are assisted by a Buddy. A Buddy is anyone with a warm heart willing to assist, run bases, cheer, and play the game alongside a kid who would otherwise not be able to participate in the game independently due to physical and/or cognitive disadvantages. Our team, the Orioles, consists of about 8 players of various abilities who have been meeting every Saturday morning since the end of April.
Anything goes on this team. We only play each other. None of us even bring a ball glove. The score boards are never on. We don't win and we don't lose. We have no audience other than the families we come with. Not all players are present each Saturday to play but number doesn't stop those who do come from playing. Buddy's are mostly parents and our coach, but sometimes siblings and visiting family members. Your kid only wants to run, but not hit the ball? That's fine. Your kid wants to hit and then run all the bases at once because we all deserve the feeling of what a homer feels like? Go for it. Your kid just wants to skip a turn at the plate to pick flowers or chase balls instead? That's cool, too. Or maybe the first hit off the tee wasn't your kids best hit? That's ok, hit it again. You're among friends. And hey, siblings can play, too.
Our team is safe and understanding. We get each other. Our team offers no pressure because no one is judging. Our kids are playing the game that they can play in the very best way that they can play it. That's all it is and that's all it ever should be. And that's just plain awesome.