Jordan Miller, occupational therapist, and Jamie Lowman, physical therapist, both working at Ozarks Healthcare in Mountain Grove, spent the last few months helping some of Ozarks Healthcare’s smallest community members with big challenges enjoy one of the sweetest summer traditions: the game of t-ball. After working with a patient one day, Miller said she had an idea to start “Abili-T-Ball,” an adaptive little league program designed for players with special needs.
“I was working with one of my kiddos, and we had finally mastered the skills he needed to be able to catch and throw a ball with his peers,” Miller said. “I just had this thought of how great it would be to have an adaptive league where kiddos with special needs could safely participate in sports. I shared this with Jaime who was super excited and agreed to get things started. With my profession, and in my life growing up, I have always been taught if you see a need, you meet the need.”
Miller and Lowman worked on organizing Abili-T-Ball on their own time, and grew their league to serve two age groups in the Mountain Grove area, from toddlers to teens. Since then, other therapists have been encouraged to grow the league into other communities across Ozarks Healthcare’s region. Miller said her goal behind Abili-T-Ball is simple, “to allow our kiddos to be kids.” Parents of kids with physical and occupational challenges are also able to enjoy watching their children play a sport and overcome obstacles. The support of parents, friends, and community members has been overwhelming, according to Miller.
“We were able to work on so much more than just the motor component of playing t-ball,” Miller said. “We had kiddos who were unable to make eye contact with others at the start, and by the end of our season, they were sharing a ball, helping their teammates know which base to run to next, and cheering each other on after every hit. It was encouraging to everyone watching these kids, especially me.”
Information about fall leagues in additional locations is expected to be shared soon. You can follow Abili-T-Ball’s Facebook page for updates or email [email protected].