“Mom, I want to play soccer,” exclaims my eight year old one day. Words that brought anxiety instantly into this mommy’s heart. How do I explain to my sweet little girl that I may not be able to make that happen? You see Emma has some challenges that would make it hard to just go to the local soccer league and sign her right up. Emma is a special needs child. The two major obstacles for her to play soccer would be her limited physical capabilities and her deafness.

special needs soccer program ymca full circleEmma wears one hearing aid and one cochlear implant that allow her to hear and speak, but in crowds and outside it is harder for her to hear instructions. Her physical disabilities would also cause issues on a team of her peers. Emma learned to walk at age five, but still struggles to run, jump and tires easily when moving around a lot. But just like with every other challenge thrown at this special needs mom; I decided to find a way to make her newest dream come true.

After some research I found Full Circle through the YMCA. Full Circle is a program for ages three to twenty-one with special needs. The program is run out of a few centers in Middle Tennessee and offers classes, camps, and sports to these amazing kids. I was even happier to find out they would be starting a soccer team for the months of September and October at a local soccer field. I quickly contacted the program leader and signed up my future soccer star.

The first little get together of the team, Emma was so excited. She proudly put on her workout clothing, donned her sleeve that protects her cochlear device from sweat and from falling to the ground, and got in the car. She was a little nervous when we got to the field. Quickly however, the high school girls that were there to help the children took her by the hand and guided her out on the field with a soccer ball. Soon, the field was full of precious children laughing, kicking balls, and their buddies guiding them along the way.

This mom stood on the sidelines and wiped tears to see Emma having fun just like all her friends who play soccer. She found a place to belong in a world that does not always include her. Now, on Saturday afternoons she joins her new friends and the programs helpers who volunteer their time to teach these kids on the soccer field. Her smile says it all, life is good and soccer is fun.