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Vancouver Park Board opens baseball field designed for children with disabilities

April 22 2017

Challenger baseball field at Hillcrest Park

The Vancouver Park Board has knocked it out of the park with western Canada's first Challenger baseball field.

The new field at Hillcrest park has been designed for children with physical and cognitive challenges.

"The Park Board is very pleased to have built the only all-weather synthetic turf Challenger field in western Canada," said Vancouver Park Board Chair Michael Wiebe. "Children with cognitive or physical disabilities can now enjoy the thrill of playing baseball in an adaptive facility, be part of a team, and develop physical and social skills."

The facility mimics the design of a typical little league field while containing key elements that make it both safe and appropriate for players with disabilities.

The infield is made with an artificial turf surface that is wheelchair accessible. Bases and pitching mounds are integrated as graphic elements onto the surface so that there are no raised obstacles such as found on a typical baseball field. The dugouts and scorer's shelter are enlarged to accommodate the movements of wheelchairs and other mobility devices, and to provide additional space for those in wheelchairs to sit with their volunteers and teammates. The base path and pitching mound distances are also a bit shorter than a typical little league field.

Games are played in a fun, safe environment where no score is kept. Every child is paired with a volunteer who assists the child as needed.

A second set of bases adhering to little league standards and a grass outfield allow the facility to also be used for regular little league play.

Funding for the $450,000 field was provided by Variety-the Children's Charity, Jays Care Foundation, Vancouver Canadians Baseball Foundation, the City of Vancouver and Vancouver Park Board. It is among 10 sports fields projects across the city to receive new or upgraded amenities as part of the City's Emerging priorities fund.