Representatives break ground on Adaptive Sports
A young girl with bright blue eyes and the ability to wrap anyone around her finger is the reason why Kingwood mom Lydia Coathup encourages others to support to Lake Houston Family YMCA’s Miracle League.
“The Miracle League has to continue; families with a special needs child makes friends and see their child having fun. My daughter was born early and at one year old, we discovered that she was Autistic,” Coathup said. “There are so many beautiful, wonderful programs out there for families with a child with Autism that can get them involved and active.”
Coathup’s daughter participates in the Miracle League program which gives children with disabilities the opportunity to play on a softball team and compete with others. When the Lake Houston Family YMCA asked Coathup how the Miracle League impacted her family, she stated, “It changed us because it is not just a Miracle League team; it’s a family. You have to believe there is a light at the end of the tunnel, you have to believe in yourself and believe in the journey. I never thought I would be a special needs parent and myself, I have special needs. Our daughter achieves her goals and does it with compassion and love for everybody. Thanks to the Lake Houston Family YMCA, this allows parents to see their children out on the field, having fun and playing a sport like many other children.”
To provide a place for the Miracle League to play as well as other students with disabilities in the Humble Independent School District, an Adaptive Sports Complex is under construction in The Groves. They celebrated the first of many milestones with a groundbreaking ceremony Thursday, Nov. 10 at The Groves Welcome Center.
The $4.8 million sports complex is being built in partnership between the YMCA of Greater Houston, the Humble Independent School District Education Foundation and Humble ISD.
“This is more than building a physical facility or building a place to play games; we’re building a place where parents and their children and now teachers and their students can reap the benefits of physical education in a safe environment no matter the limitations,” Mark Koenig, co-chair of the Sports For All Campaign, which is raising money for the complex, said during the groundbreaking ceremony. “There is a clear benefit to students in special education to have physical education. This facility is very much needed in this area. It is amazing how much things have grown in the Lake Houston area and it’s only the beginning. The Lake Houston area residents and business owners should be very proud for stepping up to build this facility; it is a real coming together of several institutions.”
They are planning to call the new facility, the Lake Houston Community Adaptive Sports Complex which is located in between Humble ISD’s new elementary and middle schools located in The Groves. The Adaptive Sports Complex will feature two Miracle League Baseball/Multipurpose fields which featured a cushioned synthetic turf that will allow players with disabilities - including those in wheelchairs and walkers - to hit, run, catch and play ball without fear of injury; a barrier-free playground which includes ramps, special swings, sensory-related items, low activities and other features situated on a cushioned turf and a covered pavilion equipped with modified basketball hoops, activity space, restrooms and a concessions area as well as small rooms for quiet spaces often required when over-stimulation occurs with people with special needs.
Players, including those involved in Miracle League baseball for children with special needs, each will have a “buddy,” a YMCA volunteer who can help them swing their bats and move from base to base. The fields also are equipped to handle soccer, softball, flag football, kickball, field day games and the Special Olympics.
The Miracle League has played at the Humble High School girls’ softball fields for the past year-and-a-half which presents some challenges that the facility will help fix such as cover, restrooms and better turf for more mobility.
The Lake Houston Adaptive Sports Complex is the second of its kind - the first being the J.E. and L.E. Mabee Adaptive Sports Complex at the Langham Creek Family YMCA at which 700 special needs children play.
“After my wife, Cathy, and I saw the Miracle League kick off at the J.E. and L.E. Mabee Adaptive Sports Complex, we knew this something that had to happen in the Lake Houston area,” Joe Cleary, co-chairman of the capital campaign, said. “As we discussed the concept with former Humble ISD superintendent Guy Sconzo, we could see the thoughts swirling around and he said this would be the perfect match for the district. This is a perfect partnership due to the use of this complex with being by the school district, YMCA and open to the community as well.”
When Paul McEntire, president/CEO of the YMCA Greater Houston, is asked what the YMCA does, he always answers, “We give opportunities. Every child, in my opinion, deserves equal opportunity whether it is in education, physical education, friendship and support. We seek to provide these opportunities.”
Construction is estimated to be completed by late summer of 2017 – just in time to celebrate opening day of The Miracle League’s fall season – but it is dependent on the success of fundraising efforts. Major donors include Insperity, the Houston Astros Foundation and community leaders and philanthropists Joe and Cathy Cleary.
To fund the project, Humble ISD will contribute $1.5 million in land and infrastructure and will utilize the facility daily for adaptive PE and Integrated Athletics; the Lake Houston YMCA will operate weekend and after-school programs for multiple sports and use it for the Miracle League and the last portion of the partnership involves the community through the “Sports for All” campaign. In the Observer’s previous article about the Adaptive Sports Complex, they needed to raise $3.3 million for the facility and now, thanks to generous donations from the community they have raised $4 million and still need to reach their goal of $4.8 million.
They hope the community will donate toward the Adaptive Sports Complex to support their efforts to provide sports for all.
“We have the opportunity to bring a complex like this into our community to showcase what we care about athletics and we care about athletics for every single child in the Lake Houston area is quite a moment of pride for all of us,” Humble ISD superintendent Elizabeth Fagen said.
To donate www.ymcahouston.org/sports-for-all.