Carroll County, GA -- CARROLLTON, Ga. – The College of Education’s Comprehensive Community Clinic at the University of West Georgia recently teamed up with the Carroll County Sertoma Club to host its annual Fantasy Baseball Camp. The camp, which originated as a camp for children with hearing and speech difficulties, incorporates the fundamentals of baseball with speech-language activities to teach children. Campers visited stations where they practiced skills such as catching, pitching, running and hitting with Wolves baseball players and coaches.
This year’s camp included camper Christopher Morgan, who was born blind. However, he has never been a victim to his condition. Growing up in a sports-oriented family, Morgan is constantly moving. He loves to shoot his basketball, swing his bat and run. His father played baseball in college, and his older brothers also played the game as they were growing up. When his mother, Tee Buttone, contacted the College of Education’s Comprehensive Community Clinic and asked them about registering Morgan for their Fantasy Baseball Camp, she had no idea that she would be received so well.
“Because it was an education-based camp, I think they were okay with accepting a teachable moment,” said Buttone. “This whole idea is about teaching and learning, and so it just fits that it’s with a higher institution of learning. It’s about exposing children about the game of baseball, about the structure of the game itself.”
Buttone contacted five other camps that were unable to accommodate Morgan’s condition before receiving a positive response from the Fantasy Baseball Camp. “I mean I could teach him if I really took the time to tell him, but I wanted him to learn and be around different kids.”
Morgan loved swinging the bat at camp, where he learned about baseball concepts like fly balls and striking out. After the first day of camp, Buttone said Morgan was beyond excited to go back and learn some more. “Usually, when Christopher is excited, he does not sleep through the night,” she said. “Christopher was up at 3 o’clock this morning because he was so excited. He couldn’t wait for the morning to come.”
When Buttone reached out to Dr. Laura Smith, director of the CCC, she explained her situation, and without hesitation, Smith invited Morgan to the camp with open arms. “When she told me about Christopher’s condition, I did some research on which ball was the best, and the Sertoma club purchased it for the school to use,” said Dr. Smith.
The beep baseball used by Morgan was created by the Denver Beepball Group, a branch of Telecom Pioneers of America, a volunteer organization of retired telecommunications employees across the United States and Canada, and is the official ball of National Beep Baseball Association. The ball is about the size of a softball, and has a speaker on the side that emits a steady beeping sound when activated. It is the sound of the beep that guides the user to its location, allowing visually impaired players the same opportunities as others. The ball is a cost friendly investment that allows it to reach as many backyards as possible.
The Carroll County Sertoma Club has worked with the CCC to sponsor the camp for 10 years. “Jim Gill, one of our founding members saw that other areas were doing similar programs, and he suggested that we do it,” said Camp Director Charles Hodges, who works with the children to teach them the fundamentals of the game. “Our club decided to do a Fantasy Baseball Camp for hearing impaired children. It was originally for hearing impaired, but eventually it became for speech and hearing impaired children and we’ve been doing it ever since.”
“It’s great to collaborate with the community, the Sertoma Club, the baseball team along with their coaches, and receive their support,” said Smith. “They provide the equipment; we couldn’t provide that without their collaboration. Each of us brought a different area of expertise, and to see all of that come together to benefit the children is just fabulous. She looks forward to possibly expanding the camp in the future and providing even more opportunities that will continue to benefit these children.”
For more information about the Comprehensive Community Clinic, visit their website at http://www.westga.edu/coe/index_1357.php.