Programs to Supports Kids with Autism: Miracle League

Miracle League strives to make miracles come true for people living with Autism.

March 14, 2020

Courtesy of BuildJakesPlace.com
Every Saturday, student volunteers gather at Jake’s Place to play baseball with kids with special needs.

Arthur Aston, the founder of Miracle League, is a firm believer in the idea that “anyone, regardless of ability, can achieve their goals, when given the opportunity.”

And so, with the help of a group of student volunteers, he set out to form Miracle League, a program designed to give people with disabilities the chance to partake in America’s favorite pastime: baseball.

The league is a part of Jake’s Place – a nonprofit dedicated to building all-inclusive playgrounds where both abled and disabled children can play. The program offers both a Minor League as well as a Major League, with children as young as five years old joining in on all the fun.

To play, each participant is first assigned a student volunteer, or rather a buddy. The buddy assists the player with hitting the ball, running to the bases and protecting them in the field. But to volunteers like Hope Seybold (‘19), who has been working with Miracle League for over three years now, the program means so much more.

To me, the most meaningful part of Miracle League is the connections I make with the players. You see them every week, so you start to become friends with them. Besides, the kids and the adults really love doing it, so seeing how happy it makes them is what really keeps me coming back for more”

— Hope Seybold

“To me, the most meaningful part of Miracle League is the connections I make with the players. You see them every week, so you start to become friends with them. Besides, the kids and the adults really love doing it, so seeing how happy it makes them is what really keeps me coming back for more,” said Seybold.

Seybold, along with Aliyah Anderson (‘19) currently run the Miracle League Chapter at Cherry Hill East. Prior to the start of the Spring and Fall Seasons, Seybold and Anderson organize a meeting for all interested students. This year’s spring season is set to begin on April 21st and every Saturday after that from 10:00 to 12:00, around 15 to 20 student volunteers will pair off and play baseball. On average, the minor league contains ten consistent players and the major league comprises of anywhere from 15 to 20 players.

But despite its current grandeur, the club is still relatively new. In fact, it was in the spring of 2016 that Hope Seybold, her older sister Holly Seybold (‘17) and Joe Levin (‘17) decided to bring the program to East. And the results of their hard work were a smashing success. The first meeting, alone, boasted well of 90 prospective volunteers.

Now, with the weight of the club left to Seybold and Anderson, they are more than excited to see what this upcoming season has in store.

Courtesy of BuildJakesPlace.com
Hope Seybold (’19) organizes students to attend the weekly games at Jakes Place.

“I always look forward to the seasons starting because Miracle League really does mean everything to me,” said Seybold. “It is so important because people with disabilities, whether it be autism or physical disabilities, don’t always have the same opportunities to play on sports teams or to even throw and hit a baseball. Miracle League is able to give them that chance.”

According to the US Census, there are about 12,000 people with disabilities in Camden County. Of the 12,000, 70 are registered to play in the league. Both Seybold and Anderson hope that the percentage will continue to grow in the coming years so that one day everyone can accomplish their dream and maybe even just hit a home run.

 

 

 

How you can get involved: Miracle League first meeting for the Spring Season is set to take place after school on April 13th. If you are interested in helping out, be sure to attend the meeting.

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