I Love Dayton: Owen’s Place makes baseball accessible for all abilities

I Love Dayton

BEAVERCREEK, Ohio (WDTN) – During baseball season, all ages and abilities get together to enjoy America’s pastime at Victory Park.

The ball fields sit adjacent to Owen’s Place, a universally accessible playground designed to encourage play between all abilities.

Several years ago, a fledgling little league team for children with disabilities joined the nonprofit organization. Now close to 100 players participate between Owen’s Place Baseball’s child and adult leagues.

“It’s one of the first times that children can learn cooperation, team building, hand-eye coordination and it’s a safe environment,” said Jennifer Suel, the mother of an Owen’s Place Baseball player.

“It’s such a gift,” added another mother, Elizabeth Foor. “I can’t even put into words how amazing it is to be able to come in here and watch him play with other kids, when he normally wouldn’t be accepted at other places.”

Carmen Gustafson and her husband helped launch the program before it joined Owen’s Place. She said the players interacting with others with similar abilities helps build their confidence and skill level, while also allowing parents to meet families in similar situations.

“It just brings the community together,” Gustafson said. “And it builds that social network that all of us need to have to support each other.”

With growing demand for activities, Owen’s Place is adding a kickball league in August. It’s also fundraising to create an adapted baseball diamond with a turf infield.

Learn more about Owen’s Place, available activities and upcoming events by clicking here.

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