Shelley Kane June’21

Jays Care Foundation in Our Community

By Shelley Kane

Jays Care Foundation hits a homerun for two local community organizations, Variety Village and the West Hill Baseball League. Both organizations were the recipients of The Field of Dreams Grant awarded to them by Jays Care Foundation.

Variety Village’s main facility, located at 3701 Danforth Avenue, is a leader of sports and life skills training for children, youth, and adults with cognitive and/or/ physical disabilities. They offer programs such as camps, sports teams, Aquatic leadership, and adult day camps. “We, Variety Village, are thrilled to be one of the 14 recipients of this grant,” said Karen Stintz, President and CEO for Variety Village. “We received 100,000 dollars from Jays Care Foundation, and this is going to help us build a baseball-themed practice area for Challenger baseball athletes and fully accessible pathways.”

Challenger Baseball is Jays Care adaptive baseball program. They run in partnership with two other organization: Baseball Canada and Little League Canada. The program is designed to give children and youth living with cognitive/physical disabilities an opportunity to engage in teamwork, gain self-empowerment, become independent, and learn new ways to communicate. Jays Care Foundation has a vision, “a level playing field for all children and youth across Canada.” Variety Village is right on board with that vision. “This gives us the opportunity to be on board with Challenger Baseball,” said Stintz. The grant money will help with the construction of the accessible practice diamond. “We are very grateful for the opportunity to further help our community,” said Stintz. Construction will be completed by Fall 2021.

Variety Village has already been involved in Challenger Baseball in association with Jays Care Foundation and the City of Toronto. They had the opportunity to play at the first fully accessible baseball diamond in the city. The diamond, named after the previous Jay player Roy Halladay, is located at Highview Park in Scarborough southwest. It was a unanimous decision to name it after the former Blue Jay on what would have been his forty-second birthday. This playing field provides full access to all people with physical/cognitive disabilities. The organization provides adaptive equipment and programming.

The second local community organization that was a recipient of the Field of Dreams Grant is the West Hill Baseball League, and just like the movie Field of Dreams starring Kevin Costner, “build it and they will come” will hopefully ring true. They are using the grant money, which was matched by the City of Toronto, to engineer, excavate and reconstruct the already existing baseball diamond located at Lawrence Avenue East and Manse Road in East Scarborough. “The diamond and playing field were literally built over farmland and have never been revamped. The baseball field is in great need of repair. All the pipes underground are broken and leaking,” said Mark Crone, Director of Player and Coach Development. “It is a large amount of money, but, when budgeted for engineering, excavating and reconstruction it has eaten the budget.”

The West Hill Baseball League is hopeful that construction will start in the fall and it will be a new beginning for all community members to come together and enjoy the sport of baseball. “This money will enable us to have a functioning baseball diamond and field where all of the community can enjoy It and have a sense of togetherness,” stated Crone.