Take Me Out To The Ball Game
With those words the annual Communitas baseball game began, much to the joy and delight of all who attended. For more than two decades, this friendliest of baseball games has been the highlight of the year for people served through Communitas and for staff. When the pandemic forced the cancellation of the event last year, it was a real blow.
“It was the first time in 20 years that we didn’t play and people really felt that loss,” says Vicky Manderson, manager of Supported Independent Living (SIL) services at Communitas. “When we said we were going to play again this year, people were stoked.”
In order to ensure that it was safe for all to attend and participate again, Covid protocols were put in place. A hand sanitizing station was set up as people entered the baseball area, social distance reminders were placed around seating areas, there was no sharing of baseball gloves, and bats were sanitized in between batters. The annual event is truly an inclusive one that includes people of all abilities: those living with developmental disabilities, mental health challenges, acquired brain injury, and those who are neurotypical. All ages and all levels of baseball skill are also on display. Many of the staff bring their families to the game and former staff come back to take part in the fun.
Shane Toy was thoroughly enjoying the game, offering colour commentary to anyone who would listen.
“It’s been too long since I was at the game, sitting here on the benches while the crowd cheers,” he says. “I missed the hot dogs too.”
Lisa McIntosh manages services offered through Communitas’ Community Living Program (CLP.) She says the opportunity for people to reconnect in person was much needed.
“Some of the people we serve rarely left their homes for the last year and a half, so to get out and visit with friends again, get some fresh air, and swing a bat or run some bases makes this a win-win for everyone,” she said.
Not only did people reconnect with old friends but some people who have been connecting through Zoombaya, an online-only service created by Communitas during the pandemic, met each other in person for the first time. Karla and Kortnnaye sat side-by-side, getting to know each other in a new way.
“It is so amazing to see this beautiful face in person,” said Karla, who has been coming to the game for years.
Kortnnaye agreed. It was her first baseball game and she was thoroughly enjoying both the game and meeting Karla in person.
“It is so cool to finally meet people face-to-face after having only see each other online,” she said. “This is such a great thing.”
No baseball game is complete without a hotdog and those offered at the game were happily devoured. Everyone who wanted to participate got a chance to play but mostly it was about connecting with people in a way that they had not been able to for so long.
“This was the first ‘normal’ thing we’ve done in over a year and it feels good to have made it happen,” Vicky reflects. “People were still talking about it the week after, saying it was the best one we’ve ever had.”