Special Needs Athletes & Peers Shattering the Notion of Limitations
When it was just starting out, SNAP Sports was comprised of just the basics: six athletes and five coaches working together to bring the world of athletics to special needs participants across Santa Clarita. Now, the organization has blossomed into something far more impressive: it’s become synonymous with giving special needs athletes the chance at profound physical and personal growth.
SNAP Sports is a nonprofit that provides opportunities for sports-based activities to individuals with disabilities all across the region. One of their main goals is to help build up the confidence and poise of their athletes while helping develop their physical and social skills – all of which comes together to improve their everyday lives.
Almost a decade after their formation back in 2012, SNAP Sports has expanded to include an impressive team of 100+ athletes and 50+ active volunteers. Now, their message of inclusion and sportsmanship has reached far beyond their little group of 11 all those years ago.
“As a parent to a child with special needs, finding your child a place to thrive and make friends just brings such an unexplainable jovial emotion,” says Heidi Jeffrey, who first started out as a member of SNAP Sports alongside her father and son, and is now Co-Executive Director and Coach for the organization.
SNAP Sports teaches the importance of camaraderie and sportsmanship alongside other skills that are significant on and off the rink. Throughout the years, there have been endless moments of inspiration, growth, and learning that have helped cultivate SNAP into something far more than a group of kids and coaches looking to slide a puck around on the ice.
“We’ve seen non-verbal athletes become verbal. We’ve seen a blind autistic individual skate a puck up the ice without help. We’ve seen individuals in wheelchairs able to stand up and take laps on the ice,” shares Chris Schrage, who works alongside Heidi as Co-Executive Director and Coach. “We’ve seen growth not only in numbers, but character as well.”
Needless to say, SNAP Sports’ tagline, “Shattering the Notion of Limitations”, is far more than a few words to live by.
“It’s a valuable lesson for those with real or perceived limitations, and those who may unknowingly place them on others,” says Dave Chase, President and Cofounder of SNAP Sports. “Miracles can happen, and SNAP Sports is proof of that!”
Since it was launched, SNAP Sports has expanded to include far more than hockey on its list of activities. Flag football, cheerleading, long distance running, and adaptive and developmental skating are all activities available to the group’s dedicated athletes.
“The amount of passion, energy, camaraderie, sportsmanship, and overall kindness of our athletes and their families is indescribable,” shares Chris. “Come out to one of our skates and you’ll see it firsthand!”
SNAP Sports also places a heavy emphasis on the work of its volunteers, who function both on and off the fields or rink to help carry out SNAP’s goal of unifying and promoting opportunities for special needs athletes. Volunteers participate in everything from coaching to event managing and fundraising – there is a volunteer opportunity for everyone, and anyone interested is encouraged to contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit https://snaphockey.org/volunteer/ to register and get involved.
Going forward, SNAP Sports is looking to create an official training center where athletes with special needs can spend quality time with their peers in a safe and fun sporting environment. And, of course, there’s always the underlying goal of continuing to provide endless ways for their athletes to make the most of the resources and opportunities SNAP offers.
For more information and to make a donation to the organization, visit http://snaphockey.org and connect with them on Instagram at @snapsportsinc. You can also check out their Facebook page at Snap Hockey.
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