Buddy Ball to begin

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Jennings kicks off special needs softball league games

A softball league geared toward local children with special needs will begin its series of games this week.

The first game for Bulldog Buddy Ball will be held Thursday, June 14, at the Jennings Parks and Recreation Department’s Pinto Field on East Academy Avenue at 6 p.m., with three subsequent games to be held June 21, July 5 and July 19.

This league was created exclusively for children with special needs and physical disabilities to have some fun.

Scott Blanchard, an organizer for Bulldog Buddy Ball, said he the games are meant to encourage all students to be active and have fun, no matter the physical or developmental conditions they live with.

“I teach at Jennings High School and we have several special needs students,” he said. “Iowa has a league called the Pony League Program and there was a group of Jennings students playing there during the spring semester. They had such a good time with it that when their season ended, I talked to Andrew Nocum, a youth group organizer from that area, and asked him about doing our own program this summer.”

Blanchard said players might register before the first game or the day of the game.

“They can do it first day if they choose and they don’t have to make all four games,” he said. “Whoever shows up, we’ll split them up into teams and assign buddies.”

Blanchard said the rules of baseball are adapted for the participants.

“Basically it’s like t-ball and there’s no scoring, because the children just like being active. The children get buddies in certain cases to help them play,” he said. “Those who are not able to swing a bat, for example, can have volunteers swing the bat for them if they need to. If someone is in a wheelchair, they can get pushed around the bases to experience the movement. Anything the person needs, they have a mentor friend to help them and they should be able to have the same person at each game.”

The series of games will end with a special World Series-style game, Blanchard said.

“With the final World Series game, we’re going to get the parents to tell us the children’s favorite song so they can have a walk-up song and have their name called. Afterward, we’ll have a party and awards,” he said.

For information on registering for the league or how to become a buddy, please call Scott Blanchard at (337)-660-5525.

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