One of the key principals of “The Ripken Way” is to celebrate the individual. When you work with kids, you quickly learn that each kid is different—each has their strengths and their weaknesses, and also their own way of playing and learning. It’s up to you as a coach to reinforce their strengths and help them build skills and improve where they can.
Another of the key principals of “The Ripken Way” is to make it fun. Kids won’t have fun if they’re sitting on the sidelines, so part of making it fun is to create an inclusive environment. What do we mean by an “inclusive environment”? We mean that as a coach, you have a unique opportunity to benefit and foster a sense of belonging for ALL kids during games or activities you are running. That means adapting activities so that everyone can participate.
The latest installment of the Healthy Choices, Healthy Children curriculum is a tool to help you do just that. HCHC: Adaptive Sports Edition is a guide to help coaches adapt sports to fit all skill sets and creates an inclusive environment for kids, and specifically, kids with special needs. If you do not have much experience in working with people who have disabilities, creating an inclusive sports or recreational program can seem overwhelming—but it doesn’t need to be.
HCHC: Adaptive Sports Edition takes a number of games and helps you to modify them to maintain the competitive nature for kids with all different needs. In addition to learning new games, there are tips and tools to help you adjust your coaching and foster new relationships between kids and coaches that can last a lifetime. Regardless of whether or not you are working with children who have disabilities, learning to celebrate the individual and to adapt to working with different people are lessons that benefit us all.
The Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation recently partnered with the League of Dreams to create the HCHC: Adaptive Sports Edition. The League of Dreams is a Maryland-based nonprofit that provides all individuals, regardless of physical or mental capacity, the opportunity to experience the joy, challenges, and personal growth from playing baseball and softball. As the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation is determined not to let circumstance be an obstacle for kids, we look forward to continuing to work with League of Dreams and other partners across the country, like the Miracle League of Northampton County and many others, to offer opportunities for kids with special needs to play and learn.
- Check out our new Healthy Choices, Healthy Children: Adaptive Sports Edition and start playing!