The New Berlin Young Athletes program finished off an exciting first year with a trip to a Milwaukee Admirals game, where they also got to greet the players before the game.
“It was amazing to see Special Olympics promoted at the Admirals game. Our athletes loved the opportunity to greet the Admirals players and they had a blast watching the game,” said program director Nathan Chart.
Chart started the program last year after looking for a Young Athletes program in his community for his three-year-old son, Bennett, and realizing there wasn’t one in place.
Young Athletes is a sport and play program for children 2-10 years old with and without intellectual disabilities. The program introduces basic sports skills to the children as well as teach them to share the joy of sports with all children of all abilities. One of the great things about Young Athletes is the unified aspect of it. In the Chart family’s case, that means Bennett and his five-year-old brother Camden both get participate in the program together.
Even though Chart didn’t have a background with Special Olympics before kicking off the Young Athletes program, Chart was working in familiar territory. “I had no background with Special Olympics before this past year but I am a teacher and I work with special needs students every year at school,” Chart said. “I feel that all kids should have the same opportunities available to them so I wanted to provide an opportunity for kids to be on a team in our community.”
“I wanted to provide an opportunity for all kids to participate in organized sports in our community.” – Nathan Chart
The New Berlin Young Athletes program has gained a lot of interest over this past year, and it is easy to see why. In a very short time, Chart has made a huge impact on his athletes by teaching them some of the basic sports skills like catching, throwing, and kicking. “I am very proud of how the athletes showed progress in their skills throughout the year,” Chart said. “Whether it would be jumping, shuffling, kicking, throwing, or following directions, each and every one of the kids showed growth throughout the year.”
It all made for an incredibly memorable year for Chart, who didn’t know what to expect going into this. “One favorite memory is just seeing the smiles on the kids faces at every practice! I also had a two-year-old in a walker who, by the end of the session would ‘shuffle’during warm-ups. It is just awesome seeing it click when the athletes understand something,’ Chart said.
To be added to his list of favorite things from his Young Athletes program’s first year: an unforgettable night where the kids got to meet the Milwaukee Admirals before a game.