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North Regina Little League making baseball accessible with $40,000 Blue Jays grant

The North Regina Little League received $40,000 from the Toronto Blue Jays Jays Care charity.
The North Regina Little League received $40,000 from the Toronto Blue Jays Jays Care charity. Justin Bukoski

A new $40,000 grant is going to go a long way to help North Regina Little League (NRLL) build a better baseball experience for young athletes with special needs.

“It’s gonna enhance the park immensely. It’s gonna give the Challenger kids somewhere really nice to play,” said NRLL president Chris Kayter. “Our park is already so beautiful. It just adds another element to North Regina Little League.”‘

The money comes from Jays Care, a charity program run by the Toronto Blue Jays. NRLL applied for funding last year. Though the announcement was delayed by the pandemic, NRLL was officially named as a recipient Friday evening.

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NRLL’s “Challenger” program pairs “buddies” with each participant. In a typical year, every Sunday buddies help special needs athletes play by assisting with pushing wheelchairs around the base path, swinging bats, protecting players from batted balls and more.

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The Challenger program was run on NRLL’s northwest field, which is limited in its quality and proximity to parking. With the help of the grant NRLL plans to refurbish its southeast field, which will include the construction of a new fence, to host the program there.

“In the northwest corner of our park, we have a smaller diamond. Its not that accessible. Having it move to the southeast corner of the park, there’s a bigger parking lot and it’s a better quality diamond,” Kayter said. “A lot of the kids come in wheelchairs, so we want them to be able to get to the diamond and feel safe on the diamond.”

Kayter said the funding will also enable NRLL to move back the fence on another of their facility’s diamonds to accommodate older athletes who would otherwise knock balls out of the park a little too easily.

“In the past we’ve always had to rent diamond space for the older kids. So now we can keep costs lower for that older age group.”

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The Regina-based baseball enthusiasts weren’t the only ones to benefit from the Blue Jays charity this year.

In Saskatchewan, the town of Creighton, Indian Head Minor Ball and File Hills Qu’Appelle Tribal Council Health Services received funding.

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In all, the program handed out $1.1 million dollars to 12 recipients this year, according to a press release.