PYAA offering new program for handicapped

Published 7:00 am Saturday, February 6, 2016

Beginning this year, children and adults with special needs in Pearl River and Hancock Counties will be afforded the opportunity to participate in baseball or softball games, thanks to the efforts of the Picayune Youth Athletic Association and their newest program, Buddy Ball.
Officials with PYAA manage the different youth programs, which include baseball, softball and football, baseball vice-president Corey Dorn said. Each sport has a board. The PYAA has 12 voluntary board members and are seeking more, he said.
During the season, children ages 4 to 16 can be seen playing baseball and softball at Friendship Park in Picayune. Football is open to children ages 5 to 12, Dorn said.
On opening day, which will be March 12, Buddy Ball will be unveiled.
The program is the brainchild of Dorn, vice-president of girls’ softball Norman Wheat and Buddy Ball commissioner Trevor Adam.
“It will be a non-competitive baseball and softball program for children and adults with disabilities,” Dorn said. “It’s available for those ages five and older. We wanted to include everyone, as long as they are active. Through the years at the ballpark, we’ve seen kids with disabilities watching their siblings play and they didn’t have that opportunity. Now, they won’t have to just watch, they can be on a team and involved in the game.”
During games, each player will be assigned a buddy. If he or she is unable to swing a bat, the buddy will help them, Dorn said. Buddies will also provide assistance in the field and with throwing balls. If the player is wheelchair bound, the buddy will roll them to the bases.
“We also do want to try and teach the fundamentals of the game through the program,” Dorn said.
Adam said the closest league of its kind is in Long Beach. The Buddy Ball program is open to children and adults with special needs in Pearl River and Hancock Counties, he said.
The Buddy Ball program is offered at no cost to individuals with special needs, Adam said.
“We don’t want to add any expense to the families,” Dorn said. “We are working with civic organizations to help cover costs.”
PYAA is currently seeking volunteers to be buddies and any adult volunteer must pass a background check. As of now, Buddy Ball games will occur once a week, Dorn said.
The group is also reaching out to all school districts in both Hancock and Pearl River counties, as well as local special needs organizations, Adam said.
Registration is taking place online at for baseball and softball until Feb. 20. On-site registration will be held at Friendship Park on Feb. 6, 13 and 20 from 9 a.m. to noon.
The PYAA is also accepting donations for the PYAA Pyramid Project, which is a fundraiser for park renovations, Dorn said. More information can be found on the PYAA website.
“We would like to see as much community involvement as possible and move Picayune a step forward and set a precedent for sports,” Adam said. “We want their parents to be able to sit back, relax and have an hour of free time to enjoy watching their kid play.”
Anyone interested in volunteering may contact Adam at 601-916-9016, Dorn at 601-273-1871 and Wheat at 601-569-0894.
Learn more about the PYAA through Facebook at PYAA Baseball and PYAA Softball.

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