How Your Gifts Help
|Changing Children’s Lives|
Overcoming his nervousness and shyness, Beky Avery's 10 year old son Emery is eager to follow his new high school buddy, Matthew Darrigo onto the practice field. He is about to enjoy his baseball experience under the watchful eye of Matthew who has been selected and trained by Everyone Can Play!™ to make sure Emery is at ease with the game and help him enjoy himself. What makes this day special for Emery is that he has never played before because he has a seizure disorder. For Emery's mother, the instant connection between her son and his buddy means she can step back and watch with pride. "As parents, not to have to worry about our children's disabilities at that moment, and for our kids not to have to worry about their disabilities and being sidelined, was amazing. For them to donate their time and their love of that game to our children.. that is something that really stirs the soul.
As of 2010 an estimated 5% or over 2.3 million of the children ages 5-15 in the U.S. have a challenge or disability ranging from physical impairment to cognitive or self care disabilities. Disability affects children of all socio-economic classes, but the incident of disability is over 11% in households reporting less than a high school education and over 27% for this living below the poverty line. (Cornell University, 2012). In 2011 in Florida 502,566 children were enrolled in exceptional education programs. (Florida Kids Count, 2012). Children with special needs are often ostracized by peers, and because of difficulty with social or physical interaction approximately 8 out of 10 are likely to have faced bullying or physical attacks—this is a rate approximately three times that of the general population.
Everyone Can Play!™ is an all volunteer-run nonprofit founded 2010 by high school athlete Owen Sarwatka at age 15 as an Eagle Scout Project. Owen, now a senior in high school, acknowledges a great personal benefit from participating in organized team sports during his childhood, and facing several injuries and overcoming long-term complications of a congenital kidney defect has given him a great sense of empathy for the challenged youngsters and families we serve.
Everyone Can Play!™ offers a series of clinics where high school athletes are paired with children with physical or mental disabilities to work on skill building exercises and the concept of teamwork and self expression. Our next ECP™ events are January 12, 2013, at Northside Little League Sports Complex and Azalea Little League Complex in St. Petersburg, Florida. We are excited to continue our offerings to children in the Tampa Bay area and have a vision to expand opportunities for challenged children in communities throughout the U.S. Each event draws approximately 400 participants and additional spectators. The program has strong outcomes including:
- Socialization and relationships that develop between all of the teens and kids involved create communities of inclusion and acceptance.
- Children with special needs demonstrate increased confidence and courage as they experience success on the field and with new friends.
- Families learn about the importance of “‘play” and staying physically and mentally fit through exercise and healthy food choices.
- High school athletes serving as mentors demonstrate increased leadership skills and an increased understanding of children who are differently-abled and what they can do rather than what they cannot.
Please join us in making inclusion, acceptance, health, and baseball the building blocks to stronger communities. The majority of special needs children that participate in our programs have never played a sport. This opportunity opens their eyes to the possibilities not of what they can’t do but what they CAN do. All gifts are recognized in our program, communications, and online community. Your financial contribution to our programming changes children’s lives.
- Your gift of $50 provides sponsorship support for a high school mentor.
- Your gift of $150 provides sponsorship support for a child with special needs.
- Your gift of $500 provides sponsorship support for an annual volunteer.
- Your gift of $1000 or more provides sponsorship support for an Everyone Can Play!™ special needs event.
Join us in supporting Emery Avery and hundreds of children like this special boy. When you give a tax deductible donation or sponsorship to Everyone Can Play!™ you will help to give all children the chance to achieve success. Your support ensures that EVERYONE can play! Thank you for your time, consideration, and generosity. Your support changes lives.
Sports Mentoring for Special Needs Youth