Raising a child can be a challenging task, even more so for those parents raising children that suffer from disabilities. Pam Bell and Teresa Ketchell faced these challenges alone for a long time. As they faced those challenges, they also realized that their children were somewhat alone as well. There just were not enough socialization opportunities for children with developmental and physical disabilities. The kids were already active in Challenger League baseball during the summer, but in the winter there was little for them to do. The parents missed the support system they had found in other parents facing similar challengers, and their children missed their friends.
As a result, Ketchell and Bell decided there needed to be some opportunity for the children to stay active and continue to grow socially in the winter months. They have now just finished their seventh season of Just 4 Fun Bowling. Bell explained that Just 4 Fun is open to anyone under 22 with a disability that is enrolled in school or a school program. The group also tries to include siblings if there is space in the program. All participants pay a $50 registration fee that includes the cost of bowling, T-shirts and a trophy at the end of the season.
“The main thing is socialization for the kids and support for the parents,” Bell stressed.
Parent Laura Pitts explained that her daughter just recently started with Just 4 Fun, but the benefits are clear.
“I can’t believe how much more energy she has, and she has made a lot of friends,” Pitts stated. “Just 4 Fun has made such a difference in her.”
Ketchell stated that Just 4 Fun served 53 children this year. The maximum number of participants is 64. These kids get 10 sessions of bowling that start once baseball ends and concludes with an end of the season party that is provided by local donations. At the party, bowlers get recognized for their accomplishments and are giving a sense of pride.
Bell explained that an end of the season party is typical in other sports. These kids also deserve to be celebrated.
“They love to get trophies. They love to be recognized,” Bell commented.
This year, Just 4 Fun celebrated with a carnival themed party with games and pizza. The entire party was made possible through the support of the community. Among donors were the Autism Project of Southern Ohio, Hickies and Down to Our Boots 4-H Club, which volunteered time setting up, cleaning up and running games throughout the evening.
Reach Nikki Blankenship at 740-353-3101 ext. 1930.