Two years ago, my mother told me about Challenger Little League. Challenger is a softball league where you help mentally challenged children play. The first day I was nervous. I got up to the plate with my buddy and she was completely lost. I showed her how to hold the bat and when to swing. When she reached the plate, she said she was ready, she swung and missed. She looked at me and was upset, but I told her to try again and she did. She tried again, and hit the ball and was so happy she hugged me. She started to run and it was a homerun. She had a smile on her face for the rest of the day.
The first day I was nervous. I didn't know what I was getting into. I just knew that these children were mentally challenged and I had to help them. When I did my first game, I was nervous and didn't enjoy it. Then I got to know the children better. I was helping them play softball. It was the greatest feeling ever to see these young children having so much fun. I realized these children have what it takes, they just need a little help. There were kids who were wild and out of control, but you just had to run around and chase them and give them the attention they needed. I began to realize that they enjoyed having a friend to talk to.
Each week I was partners with a different child. I got to know a new friend each week and learned that these children are just like other children.
I started looking forward to going and enjoyed helping them. It was really special to me to see these children have the opportunities that all other children have. Each buddy that I had I will never forget. It brings a smile to my face and many happy memories when I think of those times. fl
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.