A second-year baseball program is growing in Kitchener is opening more doors to allow those with disabilities to swing for the fences and round the bases.

Challenger Baseball is unique in Waterloo region, giving kids with physical and cognitive disabilities a place to hit the diamond.

“This program is for anyone and it’s a safe place,” said Cathy Lapar, program coordinator with Challenger Baseball.

According to their website, “To be eligible for Challenger Baseball, participants must have a physical disability, an intellectual disability, a cognitive delay, or a developmental disability.”

The games are played at Crosby Park, and include sensory equipment and help from coaches.

Players get the support you wouldn’t normally see in traditional baseball leagues.

“A lot of kids did play house league, but they did find it very challenging. Some found it scary and it wasn’t inclusive,” said Lapar.

Sofia Talboom,6, joined the program in its inaugural season last year.

Now in its second season, the league has grown from 9 players to 28. “Last year I made a friend named Elise,” said Talboom.

Sofia’s dad, John Talboom, said the program has expanded through word of mouth.

“We came here and met lots of people. We told other people, they’ve told other people, it’s grown. We’ve seen such a positive vibe being sent out to everybody,” he said.

Running in partnership with Kitchener Minor Baseball and the Toronto Blue Jays’ Jays Care Foundation, Challenger Baseball runs for 11 weeks with registration open for more kids to join throughout the season.

“I think we’re just going to see more growth, more teams, more people out,” John said.