In this post, Michelle Howard Smith, Special Mom Space blogger, answers our questions about her 11-year-old son CJ's involvement in the Miracle League of Westchester, and how the baseball program has created a positive impact in his life. CJ, who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy shortly after his first birthday, began playing for his local Miracle League in 2008.
How did your family first become involved in the Miracle League of Westchester?
I like to attend trade shows, fairs and the like. One day back in 2008 I went to a disabilities fair in Tarrytown, NY and met a representative from the Miracle League of Westchester, who introduced us to the League and everything it has to offer CJ. We immediately signed up and have been playing ever since.
What types of activities does the Miracle League of Westchester offer?
The Miracle League of Westchester offers young people with disabilities the opportunity to play baseball. They also provide other events for the children throughout the year, including parties, BBQs and movies on the adapted playing field during the summer months.
Can you describe the first moment you realized the impact the Miracle League had on your son?
Due to his limitations being in a wheelchair as well as being severely developmentally delayed, my son doesn't get to participate in a lot of activities like other children.
Playing for the Miracle League gives CJ an opportunity to express himself. He's a very happy and playful little boy. From the moment he began playing baseball, CJ has loved the game. He gets to interact with other people who are like him - kids in wheelchairs or walkers.
What is the one thing you want other families to know about the Miracle League?
The Miracle League of Westchester is funded by the donations of generous people and companies. They never charge for the activities. Without the donations of others, our children would not get to participate in America's favorite past time...baseball!
In terms of CJ's involvement in the Miracle League, what has been the most fulfilling moment for you?
It is most fulfilling to see your child enjoying him or herself. I've often felt as though my child was left out of more normalized society-based events since he was not capable of participating. I've felt very bad about that. When my CJ gets to play baseball with his buddies, it's a tear-jerking experience. I'm proud of how he enjoys himself.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
Children with disabilities can sometimes be forgotten by society. While they may not have the same physical abilities as other children, they have feelings and are people, too. That's why organizations like the Miracle League are so vital.
Please do not think for a moment that these types of organizations are a waste of time. They are more valuable than you think. Sometimes it's the only form of activity a child like my CJ will ever have the chance to be a part of.
How can others get involved with the Miracle League or the Miracle League of Westchester specifically?
There are a few ways people can get involved. You can find information on how to donate to or sign up to participate in the Miracle League of Westchester at http://mlwny.org.
For more information or to read more of Michelle's posts, visit http://specialmomspace.com/.