OTTAWA – Baseball Canada is very pleased to announce that at the recent Annual General Meeting held in Toronto, the Board of Directors voted to adopt ‘Challenger Baseball’, a program that provides an opportunity for children with disabilities to play baseball, in a division created for their very special needs.

“Baseball Canada is extremely excited about this initiative,” said Director General Jim Baba. “Challenger Baseball is a program that associations across Canada should strongly consider implementing into their programs.

“We look forward to watching the program grow and achieve success for many years to come.”

The program was presented at the AGM by Ian McLean, Challenger Baseball Coordinator in British Columbia. McLean was later chosen by the Board of Directors as the first ever National Coordinator of Challenger Baseball.

“Challenger Baseball provides kids with disabilities the opportunity to do something that able-bodied kids do,” said McLean. “It’s just a huge victory for families that never dreamt their child would be able to play baseball.”

Challenger Baseball was first introduced by Little League Baseball in 1988 and today more than 30,000 individuals participate worldwide. In Canada, the first Challenger Baseball program was offered by Calgary Little League in 1989 and today 28 baseball associations use the program nationwide with 15 of them coming from BC. In 2010, Little League BC and BC Minor Baseball Association came together to mutually promote the Challenger Baseball program in BC, under the auspices of Baseball BC. Baseball Canada envisions all associations across Canada, irrespective of their affiliation, working together to promote and grow this wonderful program.

Challenger Baseball is aimed at kids aged 4-18 that have a physical or cognitive disability, and the program operates with three simple objectives in mind:

· -An opportunity for children with disabilities to play baseball “in a league … on a team … in a uniform …”

· -To show the community that children with disabilities can play baseball in a league;

· -To go out in the community… to find young volunteers to work and mentor with these kids as “Buddies.”

Each player has a “buddy” that can assist players during the game and also provide encouragement while at-bat or playing in the field. Each local Challenger Baseball program goes out into the community and finds compassionate, caring youth and young adults willing to volunteer as “Buddies”.

Like any successful minor baseball organization, Challenger Baseball relies on the dedication of volunteers to run a sustainable program. With McLean on-board to oversee the program on a national level, his hope is to have a Challenger Baseball Coordinator in each province.

“The idea of getting provincial coordinators in place is crucial to starting Challenger Baseball as soon as possible,” explained McLean. “We’re going to spread the word and provide the resources necessary to get started, but the leadership is going to come from a provincial coordinator.

“The most passionate people to lead a Challenger Program are individuals or families that have children affected by disabilities,” he continued. “It’s our job to match those people with local minor baseball associations.”

To find out how you can start a Challenger Baseball program or for more information about Challenger Baseball, please contact:

Ian McLean