Special needs T-ball in full swing

Published 5:00 am Friday, May 11, 2007

Seven-year-old Johtravious “Trey” Jordan’s 8-year-old brotherhas played baseball all his life while Trey watched from thesidelines.

Thursday night, Trey had the opportunity to play for himself,which may not seem like a miracle to some until they find out he isrestricted to a wheelchair.

And he has a very specific, favorite part of the game.

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“Throwing the ball,” he said. “With my classmates.”

Trey is one of 18 children who are part of a new project theBrookhaven Recreation Department has put together. The object is togive special needs children the opportunity to play T-ball justlike their brothers and sisters and friends do.

“It really lifts their spirits, and makes them feel special,” saidLaToya Howell, Trey’s mother. “They finally get to do things theother kids can.”

Special education teacher Brandy Myers, one of the program’sorganizers, said not only does the experience of special needsT-ball make the children feel special, but it is impossible towatch it and be unmoved by it, too.

“It’s such an emotional experience,” she said. “It makes you gohome feeling good, thinking about how good God is.”

The children play on a normal-sized field every Thursday night witha time limit just like the traditional T-ball leagues, and whileeach one has an adult guardian with him or her at all times, othervolunteers are involved and welcome.

Coach Brett Siebenkittel is one such volunteer. He said the firstgame was a great experience for coaches, parents and kidsalike.

“I thought it went great,” he said. “All the kids got to have fun,they all hit the ball, they all got to score runs and throw theball around. It was a terrific experience for them.”

Valerie Moore of the Brookhaven Recreation Department said not onlydid the kids have a great time, they also showed some realtalent.

“A lot of them hit as well as the regular T-ball players,” shesaid.

Recreation Department Director Terry Reid said he was proud to seehow many people turned out to watch the game Thursday night, and hehopes they will continue to do so in the future.

“We had great support tonight,” he said, saying it was anexperience everyone needs to share. “You need to see the smiles onthese kids’ faces. You could see how excited they were to be a partof something like this.”

That’s the point of the league – to give special needs children thefeeling that they fit into the world around them.

“If you look, baseball is all over TV. It’s everywhere,” saidSiebenkittel. “This makes them feel like a part of that.”

With six more games on the schedule, organizers say there is stilla lot to look forward to.

“It’s all a highlight,” said Myers.