WHAT IS THE MIRACLE LEAGUE?
The vision of the Miracle League is to provide any disabled child, regardless of their level of disability, the opportunity to play league sports and enjoy the emotional and physical benefits of being part of a team sport.
The mission of the Miracle League of Greater New Orleans and the Miracle League North Shore is to promote the health and well-being of children with disabilities, provide opportunities for able-bodied children to learn about and interact with children with disabilities, and develop community awareness and support for the child athlete with disabilities through organized sports leagues. The Miracle League is designed to serve kids who cannot be accommodated by established baseball, basketball and soccer leagues due to the special needs of their disabilities. The vision of the program is to provide any disabled child, regardless of their level of disability, the opportunity to play league sports and enjoy the emotional and physical benefits of being part of a team sport.
Each program year is divided into two, eight-week baseball seasons that run September through November in the fall and March through May in the spring. Our age 6-12 years bracket plays on Saturday mornings at 9 a.m., 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 12 p.m., and 1 p.m. for the convenience of parents and children that attend school. Our 13 and older age bracket plays on Thursday nights at 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. Our BISCIS bracket plays on Tuesday nights at 6 p.m. Our soccer season runs for six weeks during January through February for our 6-12 year old and 13 and older bracket. All soccer games are held on Saturday mornings. Basketball runs from June through July, and all games are held on Saturday mornings.
The Miracle League of Greater New Orleans was founded in 2003, with plans to construct the area’s first Miracle Field in 2005, but Hurricane Katrina delayed those plans until the summer of 2009. The Miracle Field is a specially constructed baseball field that uses a cushioned, synthetic turf to accommodate wheelchairs and other walking-assistance devices that, along with appropriate support facilities, is designed specifically for use by children with disabilities. The Miracle Field is part of a new $4 million athletic complex in the Riverview of Audubon Park. The field is prominently placed alongside four baseball diamonds that are used by able-bodied boys and girls aged 4-17 years. This allows the area’s disabled children to dress in uniforms, make plays in the field, and round the bases side-by-side with their healthy peers. The League opened its inaugural season in September 2009. The season proved so successful, we expanded the following spring to include a bracket for young adults ages 13-20 years, more than a year ahead of schedule. By the end of the first year, we had 163 players ranging in age from 6 years and up. During the fall of 2010, we partnered with the Touro Infirmary Rehabilitation Center to create a special player bracket designed primarily for Brain Injury and Spinal Cord Injury Survivors (BISCIS), but it is also open to all players with disabilities 21-years and older. We added a soccer component to our program for ages 6-12 years in January 2011. We currently have more than 200 players participating in our program.
There are very few athletic opportunities for children and young adults with moderate to severe disabilities in New Orleans. The Miracle Field was the first of its kind in Southeastern Louisiana, while the next closest Miracle Field recently finished construction in Baton Rouge. The dirt and grass design of a baseball or soccer field found in a typical youth sports program cannot accommodate the walking devices or wheel-chairs used by many Miracle League participants. While there are other sports, like basketball and bowling, that include programs for the disabled athlete, these programs are primarily for individuals with a level of disability that may not require the assistance of a volunteer to help the child participate in the sport. The majority of children who participate in the Miracle League have moderate to severe disabilities that require the assistance of a buddy volunteer to help the child bat, assist him to a base, help her in the field by picking-up a baseball that lands near a child who would experience difficulties in bending over to retrieve a ball, and protect the player in the field by standing in front of the child if a hard hit or kicked ball comes toward him or her. We have a buddy volunteer for every player that participates in the Miracle League. Click here for a Volunteer Registration form.
The Miracle League of Greater New Orleans was established as a partnership between Audubon Nature Institute, Children’s Hospital, and private funding sources to cover the $900,000 cost of constructing the Miracle Field. The Audubon Institute and Children’s Hospital have continued to contribute funding towards the Miracle League’s operating budget, and Children’s Hospital is also actively working to inform its patient population about the Miracle League through the hospital’s specialists and departments that regularly treat children with special needs. The League also works with counselors at area public and parochial schools to provide information about participating in the League to the children with disabilities who attend these schools and recruit volunteers for player buddies and help with fundraisers.