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2016 BC Summer Games Spirit of Inclusivity Lives On at Grant Park

Author: BC Games Society/Wednesday, July 15, 2020/Categories: Front Page, News, 2020 News, BC Winter Games, 2016 BC Winter Games

2016 BC Summer Games Spirit of Inclusivity Lives On at Grant Park

The spirit of the BC Games is to provide exceptional experiences by creating a positive, respectful, inclusive, and accessible environment. Each BC Games leaves behind legacy funding to continue this spirit in the host community. The legacy funding from the 2016 BC Summer Games went towards building a more inclusive and accessible Grant Park in Abbotsford. Among the three new baseball diamonds that were built is one for players with disabilities from the Abbotsford Angels’ Challenger division.

The building permit and request for proposal ran from February 2019 to May 2019, with construction occurring from June 2019 to this year. The project cost $2.2 million, most of which came from the city reserves, with $100,000 provided by the Field of Dreams grant from the Blue Jay’s Jays Care Foundation, and $37,000 from the 2016 BC Summer Games Legacy Funds.

The specially-built diamond was made with synthetic turf to make it easier to push wheelchairs around the base paths and allows players to get ready in a real baseball dugout. The other two fields are grass turf and sized for players nine and under, but can also be used to host other Challenger teams. In addition, the park added a wheelchair-friendly parking lot, washrooms and an inclusive playground, with a wheelchair-friendly surface and play elements that can be used by those with disabilities.

The Abbotsford Angels’ Challenger division is part of the Abbotsford Angels’ organization and gives players with disabilities the opportunity to play the sport of baseball. It has been rapidly growing since the program’s inception a couple of years ago, from around a dozen participants to now 45 players on four separate teams. Organizer Tim Hall said these steps to provide inclusivity and accessibility will go a long way in meeting the increased demand and the players’ unique needs.

“We are super excited,” Hall said. “Having a dedicated space … is going to be massive.”

Challenger Baseball is played by those with cognitive or physical disabilities from age four to adult. No score is kept and the goal is to create a full and fun baseball experience. Each player is teamed up with a “buddy” who can help the player swing the bat, field the ball or move a wheelchair around the bases.

“We want it to be a baseball experience, and the field is going to allow us to create that,” Hall said.

Hall said the program also hopes to have a positive effect that can be felt beyond the diamond. The Abbotsford Angels’ organization is planning on having each able-bodied team spend a day being buddies for Challenger players. He hopes that partnership extends to schools and creates friendships between Challenger players and able-bodied buddies.

“It’s just neat to have people interact with each other and get to know kids with disabilities,” Hall said.

The park was officially opened by City of Abbotsford officials last month and is now accessible to all users. Watch the Virtual Park Opening, including an encouraging message from the Mayor of Abbotsford Henry Braun, Tim Hall, and past President Steve Carlton and Vice President Stan Peterson of the Abbotsford 2016 BC Summer Games Board of Directors, here: https://www.abbynews.com/sports/video-new-and-improved-grant-park-opens-in-abbotsford/.

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