Time to Play Ball!

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It’s that time of year again, when people in the Midwest start shaking off the dregs of winter and gearing up for “America’s pastime”: baseball. As beloved a sport as baseball is today, it was a sport that only sighted people could play and enjoy for the first 125 years of its existence. People who were blind or visually impaired could only dream of playing baseball.

But in 1964, Charles Fairbanks, a telephone engineer, changed that by creating a ball that contained a small, sound-transmitting device that emitted a beeping noise. The leather exterior of the ball featured a small group of speaker holes, allowing the sound of the beeps to escape. This little invention rendered baseball an accessible sport overnight!

Vision Forward is working to make sports and recreation opportunities more accessible for youth who are blind or visually impaired. With the help of members of the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) Men’s Baseball Team, a group of students got the chance to experience the joys of baseball through an afternoon of playing beep baseball at MSOE’s Kern Center. The kids learned the rules of the game, how to hold a bat and the importance of honing their listening skills.

This summer our Youth Sports Camp, to be held July 11-13 on the Marquette University campus, will provide an opportunity for kids with vision loss to enjoy a variety of sports and recreational activities that help them learn new skills, develop existing skills, build friendships and socialize with peers.

With the help of volunteer coaches and Marquette student volunteers, students will participate in beep baseball, swimming, track and field, goalball, yoga, judo and other sporting activities.

Research shows that sports and recreational activities are important to the health and well being of all people, no matter the age or ability. However, the significance of our efforts is elevated by the fact that 70 percent of school-age youth with vision loss in the United States do not participate in even a limited physical education curriculum, due to the lack of specialized education, time and resources granted to public school teachers.

Our overall goal is to allow youth to experience and enjoy the common activities of being a kid, while empowering them to improve their health, have fun and be physically active.

If you or someone you know would like to participate in or volunteer for our Youth Sports Camp, please contact Claire Egan, School Age Manager, 414-615-0104 or cegan@vision-forward.org.

To support the Youth Sports Camp with a financial or sports equipment donation, please contact Jenny Hauser, Donor Manager at 414-615-0128 or jhauser@vision-forward.org.

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