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Miracle League discusses local plans for inclusive complex

The Tuesday morning LaGrange-Troup Chamber of Commerce Early Bird Breakfast featured two guests who made a powerful statement about inclusion in the community.

Stephanie Davis, the vice president of the Miracle League National Programs, and Jill Moore, an inclusive play specialist for Landscape Sculptures in Minnesota, spoke of overcoming personal barriers at the breakfast, a conversation that delved into plans for an inclusive Miracle League athletic complex planned for LaGrange.

The accessible, inclusive athletic complex will come with a multipurpose  baseball field and playground that will be part of the 50-acre Lafayette Christian School Athletic Complex.

The complex will provide opportunities for children with disabilities to play Miracle League baseball, regardless of their abilities, as well as provide an accessible play area for children with disabilities and their families.

With the spirit of baseball in mind, participants in the game will be partnered with a “buddy,” someone who will help them hit or throw the ball and assist them in other ways they may need, Davis said.

The playground will be uniquely designed for play for those with physical and even mental disabilities such as sensory processing disorders, autism, Down syndrome, and even for children without disabilities who can participate with their siblings or friends.

“We got spinning, climbing, things kids need to build a stronger sensory foundation because kids need to practice that more,” Moore said. “[The complexes] aren’t just ramps anymore.”

The complex will be designed after other inclusive complexes around the country but will also be unique.

“We wanted to match what [LaGrange] has going on in the local community,” Davis said. “We’re really excited about the location we have going on here because it’s going to be utilized not just by the school but by the entire community.”

Davis added the complex could also bring in people from other communities who will not only use the complex but also stimulate the community with additional foot traffic.

“We have had kids traveling a 90-mile radius to visit a complex because it’s the closest thing that they have,” Davis said. “We’ve had kids moving to a community because there’s a Miracle League there.”

Moore, who was born with the condition spina bifida, a birth defect that occurs when the spine and spinal cord don’t form properly, spoke personally on the importance of having such a complex in one’s community and the impact it had on her sports career.

“The playground was the very first [experience] in my little bubble that told me no, you aren’t meant to be here, you’re very strong and competitive and you want to be with your friends but the environment is going to dictate how well you thrive here,” Moore recalled.

Dealing with her disability and using disability aids helped Moore determine how much effort her own community would put into her, she said, and how it’s taught her to inspire the current generation to be proud of their disability.

“I learned so many valuable life skills, challenge, risk, discipline, and play, but most importantly I learned to love my disability…it’s part of my identity, and I’m very proud of that … it’s brought so many cool experiences into my life.”

The estimated cost of the complex and playground will be just over $1.9 million. The Callaway Foundation has provided a grant of $926,290. Diverse Power, the Diverse Power Foundation and CoBank also donated $27,500 to the Miracle League.

Miracle League of LaGrange is set to break ground on the complex and playground later this summer and have a targeted completion date of July 2023. Those who wish to donate or who want more information on the Miracle League of LaGrange can visit https://www.miracleleagueoflagrange.com/.