Talk about a “Field of Dreams.” The Opening Day of Games for the Miracle League of San Diego kicked off Saturday at a unique ballfield recently built at Bell Middle School.
Made of rubberized material, the new playfield is a safe and accessible surface ideal for students with special needs.
“All students [and children] are worthy of opportunities and, when given opportunities, they can accomplish anything,” said Precious Jackson-Hubbard, Bell Middle School Principal.
Spectators at the event included Superintendent Cindy Marten and her developmentally disabled brother, Charley, as well as Board of Education Trustee Dr. Sharon Whitehurst-Payne.
“Charley has inspired me in so many ways,” Marten said. “Because of him, I knew early that I wanted to pursue a career that helps uplift all students.”
When planning and designing the field, San Diego Unified developed a partnership with the Miracle League of San Diego (MLSD) and the San Diego Padres.
As part of its “Padres Thank SD” initiative to commemorate its 50th anniversary in 2019, the Padres selected the Miracle League of San Diego as a recipient of $60,000 in special funding. Its contribution, along with matching funds raised by the Miracle League of San Diego, funded a shade structure covering the bleachers as well as a solar-powered scoreboard.
The Miracle League, in turn, facilitates weekend use of the field, providing children with disabilities an opportunity to play baseball in an organized league. The Miracle League of San Diego operates a spring and fall season at Bell Middle School, in addition to its original location in San Dieguito Park.
“The Miracle League of San Diego is extremely grateful for all of the love and support this community has provided us,” said Kyle O’Malley, program director at Miracle League of San Diego. “The completion of two major capital projects, a permanent shade structure and solar scoreboard, would not have been possible without the support of our longtime community partner, the San Diego Padres.”
Board of Education Trustee, Dr. Sharon Whitehurst-Payne, who represents District E and has worked in special education, also expressed her admiration of the field.
“This type of engagement is so crucial to their success in the real world,” Whitehurst-Payne said.
The $1.8 million ballfield at Bell Middle School is funded by San Diego Unified’s Propositions S and Z, which are local bond measures to repair, renovate and revitalize local neighborhood schools.