Kids Inclusion Sports Programs Come to Amarillo
Kids Inclusion, a new sports program, will be offered through Kids, Inc. in partnership with Turn Center.
A team of specialists from two long-standing Amarillo non-profits formed a committee in early 2018 to bring this project to fruition.
“This is something that we have wanted to offer for a long time,” says Jimmy Lackey, President and CEO of Kids, Incorporated of Amarillo. “All the pieces have come together. We are excited about unveiling this new program to the public.”
“This new program will be life-changing for families with children of all abilities in the Texas Panhandle,” says Bruce Moseley, Executive Director of Turn Center. “It will be an opportunity for us to grow personally as participants and socially as a community.”
Kids Inclusion is a program designed to offer a “middle of the road” adaptive sports programs. This program will provide opportunities for:
* typically developing children who don’t enjoy or have the necessary skills for the traditional Kids Inc. sports programs
* the many children who do not qualify as an athlete for Special Olympics
The idea is that ALL kids deserve to play sports regardless of disability, diagnosis or natural skill set.
The hope is that siblings, friends and/or classmates of children with a disability will get to participate together in a friendly and fun environment. Right now there is not a program for the “middle of the road” kids and they are the primary target audience for Kids Inclusion. Organizers will also begin to educate the importance of inclusion, teamwork and relationships between typically developing kids and children with special needs, not only with the kids, but with adults and the community.
In all sports, there will be winners and losers. However, in this program, everyone is a winner, especially if a new friendship is formed. If this program can encourage less bullying for children and adults alike. The goal is for everyone involved to reset their focus from the black and white concept of winning to the love of the game.
Safety is always the number one priority and precautions have been put in place to ensure the safest atmosphere for your children. All coaches and volunteers will complete a training that focuses on typical occurrences you may see with certain diagnoses as well as evidence-based inclusion practices and strategies. All participants with a disability will be required to complete a medical form with their physician to ensure safety with participation. Teams will be divided as evenly as possible at a required “open practice” prior to the beginning of each season. Rules and modifications for each sport will be made by a team of therapists from the Turn Center as necessary. Rules and modifications will vary based on each participant if needed, however the basic game rules will remain in place.
“As you may know, many of our clients do not qualify for Special Olympics because they do not have an intellectual disability and traditional Kids, Inc is not a realistic option. So, we are creating a program where children of all abilities can play together, including children in wheelchairs or walkers, children with high-functioning autism, and typically-developing kids who just want to play sports at a less-competitive level than traditional Kids, Inc. We have evaluated several other similar programs around the world, and we are hopeful that we can take the best from these to provide a safe, fun, competitive sports league focused on community inclusion.”
“The opportunity for children from our traditional sports programs to play, compete, and learn from children with disabilities is a life-skill that can only have a win-win effect,” Lackey, said. “We will modify sports programs that allow children of all abilities to be a part of a team. We are excited about the opportunities this program brings to the community.”