Youth Challenge offers year-round adapted sports and recreational programming throughout the Greater Cleveland area to children with such disabilities as muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, and hearing or sight impairments. Participants are paired up at each program with a teenage volunteer who is trained to work and play with a disabled child.
Seasonal programs include basketball, baseball, swimming, skiing, tennis, arts and crafts, horseback riding, music, sailing, bowling, nature programs, dancing and field trips. Activities are tailored to fit the needs of children using wheelchairs or crutches; with hearing and sight impairments; and other physical disabilities.
By taking on the challenge of hitting a tennis ball, canoeing down a river, or creating a piece of art, Youth Challenge participants and volunteers benefit in numerous ways. Participants not only improve their strength and motor skills, but they develop social skills and confidence through peer interaction. Volunteers are able to fulfill community service requirements while gaining leadership traits, patience and understanding, and a sense of civic responsibility.
The most important byproduct of Youth Challenge programs is the interaction between the participants and the volunteers, which is the focal point of the agency's mission. Many friendships have originated at Youth Challenge as participants and volunteers get to know each other through the exciting, innovative activities.