September 12, 2018
On behalf of the Field of Ability (FOA) project Committee it is my pleasure to tell you about our exciting community project! Winning the $250,000 grand prize from KraftHeinz Project Play would be an incredible boost in our fund raising efforts towards building a Field of Ability for our community. The grand prize would go a long way in helping us redevelop an old baseball diamond into a completely accessible, barrier-free sports facility where all people have equal opportunity to participate regardless of varying abilities. FOA will foster an inclusion culture shift in our community. Traditional baseball diamonds inherently have many physical and environmental barriers that can prevent people with disabilities from participating independently or even at all. The FOA will remove all barriers to create a fun, safe, and accessible facility that will allow our community to come together in a holistic way through participation in recreation and sport. The FOA project will encompass all areas of the facility and the physical and social experiences of sport participation. The scope of the project will include: • Phase 1 - Planning: Site design, obtaining quotes for project activities, and awarding project management contract • Phase 2 - Preparation: site layout and preparation including excavation, grading, granular sub-base installation, conduit installation, and asphalt and concrete paving – essential for achieving the project outcomes and for sustainability of the field. Phase two will ensure the site is prepped for phase three and all features of the field will stand up to the elements over the years to come. • Phase 3: rubberized playing surface over diamond and foul ball areas – flat, firm, and stable surface to promote safety, mobility, and independent play; fully fenced field and dugouts – increase the safety and security of the field; enlarged dugouts with covered shelters and benches – space for ease of mobility and assistive devices, and shelter for protection from the elements; bleachers with accessible seating features – for friends, family, and community members to gather in social participation, viewing enjoyment, and team support; fully paved parking lot with a paved pathway leading to the field – provides barrier-free access to the field; installation of outdoor shed – for storing equipment; announcer booth – adds spirit and an extra level of excitement for athletes and fans. The FOA project will ultimately remove the physical barriers that currently exist with traditional baseball fields, and that prevent people with disabilities from fully participating safely and independently. More specifically the project results will: • increase inclusive and integrated use of the facility • provide equal opportunity for participation by all people regardless of abilities • increase the adaptive programming options for physical exercise, social engagement, and overall well-being for people with disabilities • foster a positive and inclusive social environment for participants and spectators • encourage independent play and personal development physically, socially, and behaviourally for all participants • increase the safety, ease of mobility, and enjoyment for participants • significantly lower the risk of damage to assistive or mobility devices • empower athletes to develop new skills and build confidence to reach their full potential • extend the season the facility can be used • bring together the community at large in a holistic way through sport and recreational participation. For example: volunteer buddies, coaches, local sponsorship, and community events
Quinte and Area Challenger Baseball initiated the FOA project. Challenger Baseball is an adaptive sports league that provides a unique opportunity for people with disabilities and their families to be active and participate in our community. The Challenger Baseball experience extends beyond the athletes, providing parents, caregivers, friends, and family members the social opportunity to come together in a holistic manner. With Challenger Baseball providing a safe and fun playing experience for the athletes, those attending can relax, enjoy watching the game and cheering on the team, socialize with others, find support and encouragement, and ultimately feel a part of their community in a natural way, through sport and recreation. Challenger Baseball brings the community at large together through participation by volunteer buddies, coaches, and other local supporting organizations such as the Children's Foundation and the YMCA. Barriers on traditional baseball fields can prevent or severely limit participation by people with disabilities. For example, uneven playing surface may mean an individual is not able to participate as independently as possible and will limit their skill development. It also means a risk of damage to expensive assistive devices creating additional stress on caregivers. The FOA will remove all barriers and create a fun, safe, and inclusive environment for all people. It will encourage inclusive and integrated use of the facility and participation in both traditional and adaptive reactional and sport opportunities. Challenger baseball registration trends are already on the rise. By completing the FOA we would be responding to the needs of our community, and would expect registration by well over 100 athletes. Not to mention the thousands of friends, families, and community members who will also experience the positive impact this facility will have on our community. The FOA will create a fully accessible, barrier-free facility that will be open for use by many different groups, leagues, and organizations in the community. Having such a facility in the City of Belleville will mean that there can be increased opportunities for a variety of adaptive sports and recreational programming. This will in turn provide a better variety of options for people with disabilities to participate in their community and enjoy recreational and social experiences through sport. Traditional sport leagues, such as Belleville Little League, will also benefit from access to this state of the art facility. Other organizations such as the YMCA and many local schools will also be able to use the facility to offer improved programming options for children, youth, and adults in our community. The FOA will be a major addition not only for the City of Belleville, but for all surrounding areas and will be the only one of its kind anywhere between Toronto and Ottawa. With this in mind another expected outcome is that the field will be used to hold adaptive sport tournaments, festivals, or other events by attracting leagues or organizations from surrounding areas, all over Ontario, and even possibly Nationally across the Country.