Every child wants to belong to teams. However, sometimes belonging doesn’t come easy if you are working with a disability. What if the child can’t understand directions? What if he/she tires easily? What if that child loves sports but can’t keep up with his/her peers?
Even non-disabled peers want to have skills that mirror their peers. Being on a basketball team isn’t much fun if only the superstars get all the court time. At a very young age, children start to compare their abilities to others. When a child feels deficient with respect to their own skills it can lead to lack of self -confidence, sadness, and/or a lack of drive.
Cormac and his mom, Jennifer, knew there was a need in Chicago for a group that made more kids feel like they belong. They formed Chicago Superstars, and it provides that sense of belonging for kids with all kinds of disabilities, through the sport of soccer.
After the first year of Chicago Superstars, we’ve seen kids who previously either couldn’t or didn’t want to participate in sports start to succeed! Kids who couldn’t run fast enough, kids who think it’s not fair if the other team scores, kids who can’t follow directions or attend for long periods of time, kids who didn’t have a voice – all participated and succeeded in belonging to a team.
Chicago Superstars is all about modifications and setting each child up for success. Each child is working on a different goal, and we help them realize their progress on that goal throughout the season through working as part of a team. For example, one child’s goal could be following directions for 2 out of 5 drills, while another shows participation by simply helping the coach come up with a fun new drill. Others work on their balance and core strength, while another uses her math skills to keep score. Everyone has their own strengths, and Chicago Superstars helps them hone in on those strengths!
These kids didn’t just get a trophy for participation at the end of the season. They received a certificate and a trophy for actually working really hard, showing commitment to a task that isn’t always easy, and understanding how teaming can help them achieve their own goals. The smiles on their faces at the end of the season when they receive their certificates and trophies are priceless. They are smiles that show self-confidence, pride, and genuine acknowledgment of their own special talents.
Let them play-and know that they belong!