The Haldimand-Norfolk Special Needs Kids Sports Group was started in 1996 because a couple of parents wanted to bring hockey to their children with special needs. The needs varied from being physically challenged and needing a wheelchair, to being hearing impaired, to being developmentally delayed to only being delayed by their speech. Although the needs were diverse, the modified form of hockey brought everyone together. This was followed by baseball, basketball, swimming, golf and most recently by 5-pin bowling.
I believe baseball was such a success because each child is paired with a buddy. The buddy helps in whatever way is required, whether it be hand over hand on the bat, or just simply coaching the player when to hit and run..
Many new friendships have been formed between buddy and player and I'm sure these wouldn't have been made otherwise. This is also the only sport where parents take a seat and let their special kids participate on their own. This, in itself, is awesome because it allows parents with similar complaints and needs a chance to talk to other parents. This doesn't happen in our daily lives because everyone is so busy. But for two hours each Saturday, during baseball season, there are about twenty parents laughing, talking, cheering and sometimes crying together and that too, is a good thing.
I think that what we do is good for the communities in which we have our sports because it gets our special kids in the public's eye. This way, the public can see that our kids love sports just as much as anyone else and that winning isn't everything to them. Just being able to participate in a sports activity is enough.
This article was written by Carrie Heighington,, one of the originators of HNSNSG and the mother of a special needs child.
With the change to the local government structure in 2001, it was decided to change the name of the organization. To better reflect the area in which we are located and with the permission of South Coast Tourism Inc., the name of the organization was changed to South Coast Special Needs Kids. In September 2001, the organization was given "non - profit" status and became known as South Coast Special Needs Kids Inc. In the Spring of 2002, we applied for and were granted registered charity status.