MORROW COUNTY, Ohio — For a moment, try to imagine inclusion for everyone.
For many children, it’s an unwritten certainty to be written out.
“And there was a time where we didn’t think he was going to walk,” Megan Williamson said.
Jaxon was born pre-term. At six months old his mother, Megan, noticed he wasn’t hitting some growth milestones. At three years old came the diagnosis: childhood apraxia of speech, which is a neurological speech disorder. He was also diagnosed with epilepsy and eosinophilic esophagitis; a white blood cell build-up in the tube that connects the mouth to the stomach.
“So, his brain knows what he wants to say but it’s getting it out,” Williamson said.
Words. Every one celebrated.
“Parents don’t realize how important the phrase ‘I love you’ is and every time he says I love you to me it just melts my heart,” said Williamson.
Sitting in the dugout with his baby sister, Ellie, you’d never imagine how much Jaxon has overcome.
“Just not knowing one day if he would walk to watching him run the bases and swim across the pool has been absolutely amazing,” Williamson said.
You’d never imagine what Lindsay Roberts did. Or why. Or for whom.
“There was no place for my kids to play,” Roberts said.
Her sons, Blaze and Ledger, now 11 and 7, both have autism. Roberts says a few years ago sports became too competitive; focusing on ability and seemingly forgetting those with disabilities. A local league for special abilities was full. So instead of driving to Columbus or Cleveland for an opportunity, she created one.
“I asked them if I could start a team and they said yes,” Roberts said.
It started with 12 players on one team. In four years it’s now 72 players on six teams from five different counties. For Roberts the payoff is inclusion.
“[The] smiles,” she said. “Parents hugging me, telling me thank you for giving their kids the opportunity.”
“There’s only great things that can come from this,” Dr. Ben Bring said.
Bring is with OhioHealth and says leagues like this are incredible for the overall growth of children with disabilities.
“There’s so many benefits,” he said. “Not only social and emotional health, but also better overall fitness.”
The league is ran by 58 unpaid volunteers. Monica Ellis is one of them. She’s connected not by blood, but by heart.
“They started out as all my students,” said Ellis.
Ellis is an intervention specialist for moderate to intensive students. She takes on the role as coach so that parents can sit on the sideline and watch.
Jaxon now runs, throws and slides. His smile shines brighter than any diamond.
His team, appropriately enough (just like the league) is named The Unstoppables.
Inclusion. It’s not about being good or being better. It’s just about being.
You can learn more about the Clear Fork Youth League here.