With over 50,000 special needs children and youth living within a 40-mile radius of Petaluma, the Miracle League North Bay is building the first, accessible and inclusionary ball field and playground in the region ideally suited for young people and adults who suffer from physical or mental disabilities — many of whom are often excluded, intentionally or not, from conventional baseball leagues.
Since one of the main barriers arise from the natural grass fields used by conventional leagues, Miracle League teams play on a custom-designed rubberized artificial turf field that can accommodate wheelchairs and other assertive devices, while also helping to prevent injuries.
According to Miracle League North Bay President Jennifer Richardson, “We make dreams come true for children and adults. It’s more than playing a game. It’s about making new friends, building self-esteem and being treated like an athlete.”
The League uses a buddy system that creates bonds between a disabled player and an able-bodied peer.
Phase 1 of the build out at the 30-acre Lucchesi Park, located on North McDowell Boulevard in Petaluma, brought 200 community volunteers together on September 30 to help construct the Miracle League playground.
Phase 2, to begin next spring, will involve construction of the Miracle League field and two adjacent buildings, in addition to paths and bridges making it easier for those with disabilities to move safely about the field and playground.
This community-based effort involves several key partners who are supporting the process of building the field and managing the program so special athletes can play ball.
Ghilotti Construction Company of Santa Rosa is the “construction champion” and coordinator for this project in conjunction with the Northern California Contractors Association, the Engineering Contractors Association (ECA), PG&E, KaBOOM!, the Boys and Girls Club and others.
“We are providing the rough grading and site preparation required for this project, as well as the concrete work for the accessible playground,” said Greg Choma, marketing manager for Ghilotti Construction Co. “In 2018, we will complete construction of the ballfield, restrooms and snack bar for this nonprofit organization.”