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April 27, 2022

Superhero Adaptive Sports Open to All

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Superhero Adaptive Sports Jen & Caleb

Not All Superheroes Wear Capes

Imagine a place where people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) can play sports in a positive atmosphere on the same fields and gyms as their peers, and you will find the Superhero Adaptive Sports program in Reynoldsburg.  

The Reynoldsburg Parks and Recreation Department began offering the Superhero Sports program about eight years ago and it continues to serve seventy-five to a hundred athletes nearly year-round. The sports offered include soccer in the spring, baseball in the summer, and flag football in the fall. The program is open to anyone five years old and up and you do not have to be a Reynoldsburg resident to join in the fun. There are athletes with wheelchairs, walkers, and canes, but volunteers help each person achieve their maximum potential. 

Our Superhero Sports programs represent the best of what we do. Our goal remains to offer recreation to everyone in our community and by offering adaptive sports programs, we are helping to reach that goal. The programs are grassroots and led by many wonderful volunteers. We are extremely fortunate to have a strong base of dedicated people who return season after season to lead the charge. They are the rock stars that make it happen!” said Chris Skidmore, recreation superintendent for the City of Reynoldsburg.  

Jen Welday, whose son Caleb has disabilities, has been a volunteer and head coach for Superhero Sports since it began in Reynoldsburg. She first became involved in adaptive sports ten years ago, after Caleb wanted to play baseball in elementary school.  

“We wanted Caleb to play a sport like his siblings. He is a triplet and wanted to play [at] the same place they did. When he played baseball, he wanted to get dusty just like they did. Being outside and active is great for him because the more he moves around the better,” she said. The benefits for people like Caleb go beyond exercise, Welday explained. “They socialize, they cheer each other on, and they learn good sportsmanship. I love watching them grow and help the new players play. Everything is celebrated! 

The families involved are extremely appreciative and the volunteers get more out of the experience than perhaps anyone as giving back means so much to them. The key to starting an adaptive sports program in your community is to identify and recruit dedicated volunteers to help. They are the meat and potatoes of the whole experience and make it happen. Yes, I oversee registration, uniforms, medals, etc. However, I cannot stress enough how vital our volunteers are to the success of these programs,” Skidmore said. 

Parents also benefit from this program. Wherever youth sports are played, families are the biggest fans and while they spend time cheering together on the sidelines, friendships often form that last long after the season has ended. “We want parents to be a spectator if they want to be. Parents of children with I/DD are always on, so we have the volunteers assist the kids on the field.” Welday said.  

The feedback that I regularly hear is how appreciative the parents are for their child to have a youth sports experience. Being part of a team, making new friends, being active, and in large part just being part of something bigger than themselves,” said Skidmore.Parents also can connect with other parents to share resources and create new friendships. It feels like one big family where everyone is helping one another for the common good. 

For more information on any of the Superhero Sports programs, please visit the city’s website or like their Facebook page – Reynoldsburg Parks and Recreation. Currently, Superhero Baseball is full, but registration begins for Superhero Flag Football in June.  

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