We're very pleased to share this post by Susie Haendiges (Miss Susie who know her from our dance program). We hope you enjoy hearing about her and her son's experiences with Playmakers.
If you have a story you'd like to share, please feel free to connect with us and we'll be happy to post your story.
Two years ago, I embarked on a journey to California with my incredible son, Jared. At 15 years old, he was a remarkable kid, but his path was shaped by unique challenges due to his autism. One of these challenges was building connections with others. Jared didn't easily make friends, yet he never seemed to mind. Moving to a new state was tough but necessary, yet it weighed heavily on my heart. We had left behind the only home Jared had ever known, the friends he'd made in school, his brothers, and his father. He was like a fish out of water in this unfamiliar place. I tried to keep him connected to his friends in Texas through texts and emails, but he resisted. In his mind, he had left those friends behind with his old life. While he didn't seem to feel like he was missing out on anything, I yearned for him to experience the sense of belonging that comes from being part of a group. Something New Then, one day, something extraordinary happened. We stumbled upon Playmakers (then called Beach Cities Miracle League), a hidden treasure that would change our lives forever. Joining the Playmakers baseball program was a turning point for Jared. Suddenly, he became a part of something bigger—a team, a community of kids who accepted him for exactly who he was. It was about more than just baseball; it was about belonging and feeling successful. Jared's confidence soared as he proudly donned his baseball uniform. A Baseball Player In fact, he would eagerly wake up early every Saturday morning and put on his uniform before I could even remind him to. He looked forward to his games all week long. My tall, gangly child started learning skills at his own pace and ability, and he thrived. He became confident in his playing abilities and developed a strong interest in watching baseball games with me. I'll never forget the day I suggested trying a new sport. He stared at me, completely incredulous. "I'm a baseball player," he stated emphatically. My boy had discovered his place and his tribe. He finally belonged. A Place To Shine What's it like at Playmakers? Having expanded beyond baseball to include basketball and dance, it's a place where volunteers work tirelessly to ensure every child, including Jared, plays and feels successful. They're like guardian angels on the baseball field, basketball court, and dance studio, nurturing the joy of each child's heart. Today, I proudly repeat, "He is a baseball player." But also more. So much more. Thanks to Playmakers, my son has found his tribe, his place to shine, and a newfound love for baseball. It's a journey that warms my heart every time I see him step onto that field, surrounded by friends and mentors who see the incredible potential in every child. And, fellow parents, your child can find their place too, just like Jared did. Playmakers (www.letsbeplaymakers.org) can open doors to a world of belonging, achievement, and community for your child.