This weekend, I was blessed with a chance to spend time with multiple pre-teen youth who are blind or visually impaired. My first goal was to allow them to interact and simply spend time with peers that faced similar challenges and successes. Other goals included working on daily living skills, and learning about another recreational opportunity for individuals with visual impairments.
In our area, I recently learned that we have a beep baseball team. The team consists of people who are blind or low vision of all ages. Previously, the only sport I knew much about for blind athletes was goalball. I was so excited to learn about another opportunity for our kids to be active.
Beep baseball is an adapted form of the traditional sport. It consists of a ball that is larger than a softball, which beeps consistently so players are able to hit it when pitched, and find it in the field. There are two bases rigged with a buzzing sound that are triggered when the ball is hit, so the runner knows which way to go. There are many more rules that take into regard the players’ safety and also provide an opportunity to run and participate without a cane.
When I heard about the team, I knew I wanted these kids to meet them. I had no idea the players would be so fantastic. They introduced themselves to the kids. They broke down the game into smaller lessons so they could try each aspect out, even if they weren’t entirely comfortable playing. They showed a level of patience I envied. Finally, they organized a scrimmage with a mix of their players and the kids on each team.
Many of the children were unsure about the sport, and some even acted like it wasn’t going to be any fun. In the end, I heard those same kids excitedly talking about it, and some were encouraged as they were “recruited” to join when they got older. It was such an awesome opportunity for them to try out a sport, and to interact with so many adults who were blind or visually impaired.
I realize I’m straying from my typical posts because Eddie wasn’t even at this event. However, I think it’s important to remember that kids with visual impairments need to have a chance to learn about and participate in a variety of sports. Personally, I was only aware of goalball, and had no idea there were other competitive team sports out there for our kids.
Many children without disabilities build friendships through sports, and our kids often don’t have that chance at school. In regards to this baseball league, they can sign up at age 13, which means they can have the same social opportunity as their peers. As for this team, they even invited all the kids to come hang out at practices or games if they’re not old enough to play…which made them all feel included.
Aside from beep baseball and goalball, I know that many kids with visual impairments participate in other competitive sports. Do you have another example? What recreational opportunities can those of us with younger kids look forward to for our children who are blind?