Evesham supports organized sports for children with disabilities

Evesham uses a $20,000 state grant to support organized sports for children with special needs through the Marlton Rec Council’s Sports Unity Program.

Evesham Township continually strives to provide greater inclusivity for residents of all abilities by constantly exploring new programs and funding opportunities.  

Most recently, Evesham Township was excited to announce the receipt of a $20,000 grant from the NJ  Department of Community Affairs through the Recreational Opportunities for Individuals with the Disabilities grant program. 

This grant will help Evesham Township strengthen the municipality’s partnership with the Marlton Rec  Council by using the $20,000 to support the MRC’s Sports Unity Program, which provides an opportunity for children with special needs to participate in organized sports. 

Families of children with special needs can often be hesitant to enroll their children in mainstream sports programs due to the small number of supports available to foster an inclusive environment receptive to the unique needs of their children. And even when there are supports, these programs can often be cost-prohibitive. 

For these reasons, the MRC’s Sports Unity Program provides children with special needs the opportunity to participate in all-inclusive organized sports at zero cost to families in order to alleviate any social or financial burdens. 

All facility and equipment expenses are funded by donations and business sponsorships from members of the Evesham community. All coaches and staff participate on a volunteer basis, and the inclusive group setting affords youth the opportunity to foster bonds with the necessary support to ensure their enjoyment and safety. 

Evesham Township Mayor Jaclyn Veasy thanks the state Department of Community Affairs and DCA  Commissioner Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver for this new grant money that will help ensure the continued delivery of the Sports Unity Program and the expansion of the program’s important mission.  

“As I’ve said before, I truly believe Evesham Township has a practical and moral obligation to continue to do everything we can to support inclusive policies and programs beyond what is mandated by law,”  Mayor Veasy said. “I hope all residents will join me in recognizing the important role the MRC’s Sports  Unity Program plays in strengthening inclusivity and the feeling of belonging for children of all abilities in  our township.”

Sports Unity Program activities include soccer, basketball, street hockey, cheer, and more. 

Evesham Township and Mayor Veasy held a check presentation ceremony with the Marlton Rec Council and Sports Unity Program at the township’s Evesboro Downs fields on April 19. 

Marlton Rec Council President Walt Miller noted that “it takes a village to make an impact in a single life” and went on to say that The Marlton Rec Council, Sports Unity Program, Mayor Veasy, Deputy  Mayor Heather Cooper, and Evesham Township Council, along with state and county officials and the  New Jersey Department of Community Affairs, have “built a strong village” in Evesham Township. 

“The special needs community in Marlton, and this region, have a very strong village,” Miller said.  “These funds will grow our programs for the special needs community – the dollars will be cashed in for kids’ smiles and many memories. The donation of these funds is humbly accepted, with the promise of  our recognized responsibility, we, this group of awesome volunteers, will continue to make a difference  in the lives of us all.” 

Mark VonBerg, Commissioner of the MRC’s Sports Unity Program, said he was also humbled to accept the gift. 

“On behalf of The MRC Sports Unity Program, I am humbled to accept this generous gift and look forward to putting it toward the continuing growth of the program,” VonBerg said. “I thank all the  athletes, coaches, buddies, and volunteers.”