Posted by Lisa Chesher on May 14, 2018
Connie Reid introduced Lisa Chesher, today's guest speaker.  Lisa has worked in the medical field at Quinte Healthcare and started up a local Challenger Baseball League 18 years ago, held at Loyalist College every Tuesday Night.  It is an inspiration to watch these special athletes and their love of baseball.  It warms your heart.  Lisa is the Coordinator and Chair of the Field of Ability project and is here today to tell us all about this initiative.
Lisa explained that Challenger Baseball is an adaptive baseball league, geared to children and adults with physical and neurological disabilities, to give them an opportunity to play on a team, increase their self esteem and determination, build memories and friendships.  They have put together a fabulous video that can be seen on the Field of Ability website as well as on Facebook.  Currently they are playing on a field at Loyalist College which they very much appreciate, but it is difficult for the participants to manoeuver their wheelchairs.  It is Lisa and others' passion to provide a field where the players can push their own wheelchairs on a fully accessible and barrier free field and dugout area.  The league in Quinte was launched in 1997, in partnership with the Blue Jays Care Foundation.  They are a huge supporter and provided new equipment, t-shirts for the players and their "buddies" as well as training and support and encouragement.  As well as playing the game, family members have an opportunity to connect socially with each other.  In the Fall of 2017 the City of Belleville donated one of the baseball diamonds at Parkdale Veterans' Park.  The City will maintain it, but the Field of Ability Committee has to raise the funds for the project -- $700,000 that will include:
  • Fully rubberized surface for easier mobility, safety and independent play
  • Accessible dugouts to allow the coaches and players to interact as a team
  • Bleachers for our super fans to enjoy watching their athletes
  • Completely fenced for safety and true baseball field feeling
  • Announcer booth and scoreboard to give the players and families the real baseball experience
  • Picnic area
  • Accessible washrooms
  • Paved parking lot and paved pathways
The Committee is determined to hit a "Grand Slam" right out of the park by raising enough funds to acquire this Field of Ability for the local Challenger Baseball League.  Belleville would be home to the 5th barrier free field in Ontario.  They have submitted grants with the help of the Jays Care Foundation and have reached out to the Jump Start program.  The City of Belleville will provide charitable receipts for all donations and will look after all the tendering processes.  The Field of Ability can be used for other purposes such as T-Ball for younger children just learning the game, YMCA camps, compatibility competitions and national jamborees for adaptive sports such as wheelchair basketball and bocce ball.
The Program Launch Batter Up will be held on June 3rd from 10 a.m. to 'noon, a fun time for the family.  The league plays every Tuesday at Loyalist College from June 19th to August 21st from 6 - 8 p.m., rain or shine.  We want our athletes to be able to engage in healthy and active living and to be included.  This is an incredible community initiative!  To give every child the opportunity to play baseball in a fun, safe environment with no barriers.
Dianne Spencer thanked Lisa for her dedication to this project.  Loyalist College is delighted to be the host and partner of this league.