Fully accessible field now a reality in Vancouver!

February 23, 2017

OTTAWA-Baseball is truly a sport for everyone to enjoy.

Challenger Baseball Canada is a program that offers youth with cognitive and physical disabilities the opportunity to play baseball on a team while taking their special needs into consideration.

For Challenger Baseball players in Vancouver their needs have been met thanks to a funding partnership between Variety — a Children’s Charity, Jays Care Foundation – the charitable arm of the Toronto Blue Jays (MLB) Baseball Club and the Vancouver Canadians Baseball Foundation – the charitable foundation of the Blue Jays’ minor league affiliate.

The funding partners, who raised $280,000, received the remainder of the funds from the Vancouver Parks Board and all of a sudden the dream became a reality.

“It’s rare we have such commitment from so many groups,” said Casey Crawford, Commissioner of the Vancouver Parks Board. “It made the project viable. It’s a great collaboration”

The fully accessible baseball field located at Hillcrest Park, mere steps away from the Canadians home field Nat Bailey Stadium, has an artificial surface with the ability for raised bases to accommodate wheelchairs. The facility is the first of its kind in Western Canada.

“The field’s fantastic,” says Andy Dunn, president of the Vancouver Canadians. “Every child should have an opportunity to play and I thought we’ve got to do better than this for families and children.”

A traditional baseball facility can presents issues for Challenger Baseball as a wet surface make it difficult to operate wheelchairs interfering with the enjoyment of the game.

Hillcrest Park will now serve as the home for British Columbia (BC) Challenger Baseball, Canada’s western-most province that established its first Challenger Baseball program in 1992.

Challenger Baseball in Canada has achieved steady growth since 2012 when Baseball Canada adopted the program into its structure. To date, over 70 communities across the country offer programs with more expected to join for the 2017 season.

“The main part about being a part of a team is not so much the at-bats and that other stuff, it’s the camaraderie of being a teammate,” added Dunn. “Having an accessible ballpark allows kids to be part of so much more than 9 innings of baseball.”