From Exclusiveness to Inclusiveness!

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Submitted by Let Kids Be Kids founder Chris Risola

Let Kids be Kids, Inc is a local not for profit organization. In November, they partnered up with Cape Coral Parks and Rec and the Cape Coral Cal Ripken Youth Baseball League to invite children with differences to come out and play baseball.

It started with a phone call from the Let Kids be Kids founder, Chris Risola, to former MLB pitcher and probably the most famous “Limb Different” athlete of all time, Jim Abbott. Jim is formerly with the California Angles and New York Yankees. Abbott extended his support in adaptive sports and offered his assistance, including a video-taped message to the players.

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On November 18th, Let Kids be Kids orchestrated their first ever Adaptive Baseball Clinic at the Pelican Baseball Complex in Cape Coral. In attendance were current and former MLB players and coaches, including Lenny Harris, Rafael Santana, Michael Tucker, Milt Cuyler, Darin Downs and Luis Ramirez.

Flown in from Illinois was “limb different” athlete Sam Kuhnert. Sam was there to teach over 30 coaches from local leagues who traveled to the clinic from all over Lee County.

Following the Adaptive Coaches training, over 130 children got an opportunity to train with the Pros! All players, no matter their “Difference,” had a chance to play among their peers. No labels, no special treatment.

Risola says, ” All kids are different, one way or another, some need to adapt to their differences.” That’s where Let Kids be Kids steps in. They provide adaptive training to, who in turn can teach the kids who require “different” techniques. Their hope is that kids that would typically sit on the sidelines will come out and play! They plan on spreading awareness to as many leagues as possible, and not just baseball. “Our goal,” Risola says, ” is to have other leagues publicly welcome different athletes, and have the ability to coach them.”

The league has two different players currently enrolled. K’Adoffe is a 12 year old, who suffered a traumatic brain injury one year ago after he was struck by a motorist while riding a bicycle with his friend, and CJ, a 9 year old with Cerebral Palsy. The event then produced two other children who wish to join the league.

For more information about Let Kids be Kids, please visit their Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/Operationplay