Formally known as East Wilco Challenger Sports; over the past couple years, Central Texas Ability Sports has made great strides to provide opportunities for children with special needs.
Created in the spring of 2011, the purpose of Central Texas Ability Sports; or CTX Ability Sports, was to make available a destination for children with physical or emotional challenges to play sports. Two of its founders; John Lorek and Felix Madrid started with a mission to offer year round sports, providing a focus on teaching general life skills such as teamwork, honesty, and patience.
They began by providing opportunities to play baseball, but quickly grew to offer kickball, basketball, and golf. The non-profit organization has now set its eyes on building an athletic field that would impact an estimated 2,000 children with special-needs in and around Central Texas. To be located in Round Rock Texas; Ability Field (as it will be known) will be a typical ball field, with a few exceptions. Mostly it’s design focused on ADA compliance, all the way down to the field surface.
So, why sports?
In a recent letter outlining his observations; Doug Austin, a local special education teacher explained, “there are several programs that are used in schools or by recognized organizations that operate under the premise that successful academic learning begins by developing motor skills through activity.”
Austin; also a certified Special Olympics Coach, went on to say that programs like CTX Ability Sports are, “based on the principle that movement anchors learning” and that “studies continue to show that children who are physically active in their early years have a significantly greater chance of achieving success in school.”
Austin went on to state that in only four observed meetings, he observed improvements in CTX Ability Sports participants. Specifically in the areas of personal/interpersonal skills to general independence. Furthermore, participating children diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum displayed compelling progress through multi-sensory stimulation resulting in improvements to their overall comprehension.
As mentioned before: CTX Ability Sports is a non-profit group and like any Not for Profit Organization, they rely on a surplus of revenue to achieve their goals. That surplus is based solely on donations. Fortunately they’ve picked up some pretty good allies along the way, such as State Representative Kelly Hancock, United States Representative John R. Carter and even Governor Rick Perry to name a few. And, because the organization is centered on Sports Education; they’ve also received support from the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation, Texas Rangers Organization, Dallas Stars through the Texas Stars Organization, and even the Dallas Cowboys Football Club through the Gene and Jerry Jones Foundation.
So what does all that mean for the future of Ability Field?
With the help of general donations, local and state officials, as well as the support of the mentioned sports organizations and others, Ability Field is on target for construction this year. Which means Central Texas Ability Sports will continue to positively impact children diagnosed with special-needs and their families by providing them an equal opportunity to grow physically, socially, and emotionally through peer interaction.
In a recent interview with Andrea Ball of The Austin American Statesmen, Christina Williamson; the mother of a child diagnosed with autism, was quoted as saying:
"Going to Wal-Mart used to be a misery for Nathan.The crowds were too loud, the lights too bright, the lines too long for the 6-year-old Georgetown boy, who has autism. Trips to the store ultimately ended in tears and tantrums.Until one day, when it stopped. And Nathan’s mother, Christina, said she knows exactly why:East Wilco Challenger Sports.”… Now known as Central Texas Ability Sports.Although initially overwhelmed by the gatherings, Nathan soon began participating and looked forward to seeing his friends every week. By last fall, Williamson noticed her son no longer cried when he went to the store. He started pushing the shopping cart. And the once-intolerable process of waiting in line suddenly became no big deal.Once; Nathan told his mom that he was waiting his turn in line, just like in sports."
It’s a great cause and a good story. And as a sports fan; specifically Dallas Cowboys fan, it makes me proud to know organizations such as The Gene and Jerry Jones Foundation care enough to show their support to groups like CTX Ability Sports.
In Texas; winter is slowly retreating to warmer spring days and it can only mean one thing for the kids at Central Texas Ability Sports, opening day is around the corner and it’s almost time to hit the field.