After writing the article below about the inclusive sports, I considered again that it would be a good idea to have a sports league like that for all kids, not just handicapped children. Every time we are involved in sports, we have at least one bad experience. Either a parent makes a hurtful comment about a less experienced child, a bigger child with more experience picks on the other ones, etc. It's really sad that sports and children have to be exploited in such a way when everyone should be able to benefit from teamwork and confidence-building exercises that make them friends and give them skills.
My son came home from school with a brochure for basketball. I cringed. This happens every time there is a sign up for something. He wants to do everything available, like I did, but things must be a bit harder for boys. They are expected to know sports and be ruthless and be tough. My son is a more gentle child, emotional and sensitive. He gets picked on, left behind, and forgotten on the bench. Coaches do not teach kids who are new. They spend their time working with the winners.
But this brochure was different. Upward.org is an organization that is faith-based, offering leagues for churches that concentrate on teaching children needed sports skills, providing an alternative to the "win at all costs" attitude, and providing balanced teams where children compete with other kids of equal skill levels. The teams are selected after a skills assessment. The teams are not selected based on age. They are selected based on skill levels and height so that each team competes against other teams with equal height and skill levels. Essential life skills in the form of teambuilding, cooperation, compassion, and opportunities for all children to particpate in EVERY game, without over-loading them with more than one practice and one game a week, are the basis for the league.
It is a bit pricey but when you consider that they provide the clothing, it doesn't come out to much more than regular league sports. Upward offers cheerleading, basketball, soccer, and others depending on area. The website (accessed by clicking the word Serendipity in the title of this post) tells how you can get a league started in your church. The only downside is that it goes from pre-K only up through grade 6. I wish it would go longer than that. Teenagers want a safe and uplifting environment, too!