In front of 30 Challenger Baseball participants and Toronto Blue Jays Outfielder KEVIN PILLAR, JAYS CARE FOUNDATION, the charitable arm of the TORONTO BLUE JAYS, together with Little League Canada, Baseball Canada and Challenger Baseball Canada today announced an exciting new partnership that will see Jays Care assume leadership of the Challenger Baseball program in Canada.
Challenger Baseball is an adaptive baseball program designed to empower children and youth living with physical and/or cognitive disabilities. The program is designed to teach participants the core life-skills inherent to baseball, including: teamwork, communication, determination, resiliency, inclusion, support and courage. Going forward, Jays Care will assume day-to-day management of the program, work with its partners to co-develop and evolve Challenger Baseball, and design and deliver best-in-class training to hundreds of Challenger Baseball volunteers from across the country. Jays Care will also fund the program and provide participants with uniforms and baseball equipment in addition to specifically designed drills and games, as well as coaches trained to plan and implement inclusive baseball programming.
“Jays Care is incredibly proud of the more than 1,400 children and youth who currently participate in Challenger Baseball programs across Canada and the hundreds of dedicated volunteers who make the program possible,” said Robert Witchel, Executive Director, Jays Care Foundation. “This unique partnership with Little League Canada and Baseball Canada will ensure that more children will have the opportunity to join a team and become more confident and independent as they swing for the fences and track down flies just like Kevin Pillar and the rest of their Blue Jay heroes.”
“Baseball Canada is thrilled to partner with Jays Care Foundation and Little League Canada to deliver the Challenger Baseball program across Canada,” said Jim Baba, Executive Director, Baseball Canada. “The Challenger Baseball program has been part of our structure since 2012 and we look forward to helping the program grow and reach even more Canadians under the leadership of Jays Care Foundation.”
“The partnership with Jays Care Foundation to promote Challenger Baseball across Canada is an important milestone for Little League Canada and Baseball Canada,” said Roy Bergerman, President, Little League Canada. “Together with Jays Care Foundation, we are confident that we can showcase the value of Challenger Baseball to all children in Canada, and to make their parents aware of the opportunities this program can offer to them and the children with physical or cognitive disabilities.”
“This is an exciting day for Challenger Baseball Canada,” said Ian McLean, National Coordinator, Challenger Baseball. “Having the Toronto Blue Jays brand, in the leadership of our program will only help us grow the game in Canada, particularly to our audience of children with disabilities and their families. Jays Care Foundation are masters in the field of training volunteers, which will definitely create a better experience for all the Challenger Baseball participants in Canada.”
Jays Care, Little League Canada and Baseball Canada have also established the Challenger Baseball Advisory Committee made up of experts in adaptive sports programming from the country’s leading organizations in the field including: The Abilities Centre, Antigonish Challenger Baseball League, Canucks Autism Network, Easter Seals Ontario, Holland Bloorview, The Little Mountain Challenger Baseball League, Recreation Integration Victoria, and Variety Village.
To provide children and youth living with cognitive and physical disabilities with more opportunities to play, Jays Care has also invested more than $460,000 to date in accessible baseball diamonds across Canada.