Alexandria’s Miracle League Builds ACPS Students’ Skills Through Baseball
The Miracle League of Alexandria (MLA) shares the physical and socio-emotional benefits of playing baseball by providing an opportunity for youth and adults to step up to the plate. Over the past year, MLA expanded its outreach to partner with Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) to host exhibition games for middle school and high school students with disabilities. In coordination with the ACPS Office of Specialized Instruction, six games were held in the fall and spring at Kelley Cares Miracle Field, adjacent to the Nannie J. Lee Memorial Recreation Center (Nannie J. Lee Center).
“It promotes physical activity, and we know there is a connection between physical activity and mental health well-being,” ACPS Career and Transition Coordinator Amy Creed said. “It allows students to engage with each other. These are positive moments when students cheer each other on.”
MLA prides itself on being one of the few sports programs that offers individuals with disabilities the opportunity to play outdoor sports in a safe and pleasant environment. It got its official start in the spring of 2011 as part of the nationwide Miracle League Program with approximately 300 chapters throughout the U.S. and other countries. Games are played at Kelley Cares Miracle Field, which has a special rubberized surface that allows players who use wheelchairs, walkers and other equipment to participate.
At an outing in early May, George Washington Middle School seventh grade student Davon Drummond expressed his love of playing baseball. “I like hitting the ball. It feels very good when playing and when the crowd cheers you on,” Drummond said. Aiden Chandler, an eighth grade student at Francis C. Hammond Middle School, explained that running around the field and catching the ball “makes me feel great!”
“Each day we see our players progress playing baseball, developing social skills and supporting each other and our many volunteers,” MLA Chair and Volunteer Program Coordinator Mac Slover noted.
MLA also hosts youth games at the Nannie J. Lee Center as part of the after-school program run by the Alexandria Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities. Additionally, the program hosts games for adults on Saturdays that are open to the general public.
The Miracle League program thrives thanks to the support of its volunteers. Several organizations sign up to volunteer each season, including the Alexandria City High School National Honor Society. MLA is also proud to note that ACHS senior Milan Rex, who was named State Volleyball and Gatorade Player of the Year, is an MLA volunteer and has donated her Gatorade grant to MLA. T-shirts worn by ACPS students and staff during the games are made possible by the donation of local realtor Jen Walker.
“You see parents, families,” MLA past Chair and Treasurer William Rivers said, “when they get to see their kid having this opportunity they otherwise would not have, it feels good.”
- Office of Specialized Instruction