July 11, 2019 4:45 pm

‘Smiles guaranteed’: Construction starts on new accessible diamond in Whitby

It's been three years in the making. A new accessible baseball diamond in Whitby is starting to take shape. Aaron Streck reports.

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It’s been three years in the making but an accessible baseball diamond in Whitby is starting to take shape.

Construction is underway at the new home for the Durham Region Challenger Baseball League.

“In a few weeks, you’ll see a rubberized surface,” said Tracy Roulston with the league.

Work on the new accessible ball diamond at Willow Park started on Tuesday. Roulston has been there every day to check out the progress.

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“The need is here and we need it. An opportunity to make lots of memories and lots of smiles for so many kids because again we’ve been promoting this as not only an accessible diamond but as inclusive,” said Roulston.

READ MORE: Durham Challenger Baseball receives grant for accessible ballpark

The diamond is slated to cost close to $400,000. After receiving a number of donations and grants, the town stepped up a couple of weeks ago to get the project over the hump.

“Every provision we asked for will be coming true,” said Roulston.

Whitby has dozens of ballparks but Whitby Parks Development supervisor Sean Malby says creating an accessible diamond was a first for the town.

“It was a little bit of a struggle and we made a number of errors as we kind of worked through the design, I think we have it in a great spot right now,” said Malby.

Abi Coates-Latour and her mom, Wanda, like so many others, had to come to Willow Park and get a preview.

“Makes me hope that there will be more accessibility playfields in the future and I’m very excited for this one,”  saidAbi Coates-Latour, a Durham Region Challenger Baseball player.

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Abi is 18-years-old, she has epilepsy and intellectual disabilities. Challenger baseball makes her and her mom feel like part of a team.

“I’ve never really played on a team where the whole point of it is just to have fun, it doesn’t matter if you actually win or not,” said Abi Coates-Latour.

“You feel the love as soon as you walk on to the field on Saturday morning, it’s there. So she gets to play and be herself and have fun,” said Wanda Coates-Latour.

The field is sure to bring one thing.

“Smiles guaranteed,” said Roulston.

The new accessible diamond is expected to be complete in early September. While the challenger season will be over by then, they’re aiming to play at least one game there, before making it their permanent home next season.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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