Our Recreation Services team works diligently to ensure that all of the kids living in our Residential Care facility have an opportunity to get out and about in the community on a regular basis. There is a lot of planning that goes into each and every activity; scheduling transportation, coordinating with staff, and getting all of the kids ready to go can be challenging.
Recently, on an outing to the park, staff members were watching the children play and noticed two boys tossing a couple of footballs around. While most of the kids continued to play in the playground, Sean saw a ball. That’s all it took.
Sean is nonverbal, but we all know he loves to play ball. Sean saw the boys AND the footballs; he decided to go for it. Keeping a close eye on the situation, staff stayed back and monitored the situation closely; probably a little anxious about what would happen. But the two young boys, who were in the park to play football, were soon playing catch with Sean, tossing the ball and allowing Sean to play along. They remained patient when the ball wasn’t returned at times, and even cheered when Sean wandered into the “end zone.”
Jon, also on the outing, noticed the boys playing and while it was obvious he wanted to play along, Jon is very shy, and was hesitant to join the boys. With a little encouragement from staff, he too joined in, and soon they were all four playing ball; just four young guys playing football in the park.
“So much of what we do is staged. We invite the community members to join us for scheduled activities or outings in advance, and this was just initiated completely by the kids. It was really awesome to watch,” says Sarah Babcock, Recreation Coordinator. “The other boys were holding the ball for Jon to kick, and you could tell they were working with him to learn.”
The boys continued to play, unaware of the emotional staff watching. “I literally had tears in my eyes,” said Andrea Hogrefe, Residential Director for Love Home. “I think a lot of us did, it was just so cool to see that happen.”
No pictures were taken, no names exchanged, it was simply an opportunity for kids to be kids, and we are grateful for the two young men who made a difference by including two young men in their game.
It really was just a wonderful day in the park.