A non-profit is Making a Difference and “making dreams work through teamwork”
You no doubt have heard the saying “There’s no I in team,” meaning no one person is more important than their teammates.
But for young people with special needs, being a part of a team is often nothing more than a dream.
However, the non-profit organization, “Team Up for 1” is making a difference and making that dream come true more often for kids with disabilities or serious illness.
When CBS 21 caught up with 17 year old Isabelle or “Izzy” Jacks at York College February 4, she had her game face on, as is customary during any competition, including the Woman’s Lacrosse team at York College.
But, having a developmental and intellectual disability has kept Izzy “out of the game” when it comes to team sports.
In fact, for most special needs kids, playing a sport can lead to an “unsettled situation.”
So how did Izzy Jacks end up as an MVP for the team?
Well, we have Charlie Levine to thank.
Charlie has been in the social services field for years and founded “Team Up for 1,” which is based out of Maryland.
Once they identify a child and their favorite sport, they connect with teams around the region that would be a good match.
Charlie Levine, “Making a difference in everybody’s lives is important to me. But kids hold a special place in my heart. So, watching these kids shine, watching them smile and some of these kids in our program are being mainstreamed for the first time in their lives and watching their experiences really neat, really special and I’m glad we can do this for everybody.”
And it is having a positive impact on everybody, not just the honorary players.
Jenn Muston, Women’s Lacrosse Coach, York college says, “It impacts the girls on our team a lot. She is someone who reminds you what’s important in life. She doesn’t judge, she’s always looking for the positive in things.”
As with team sports, the lacrosse players also support Izzy in other areas of her life, including when she raced in Special Olympics.
Annette Jacks, Izzy’s Mom says, “The girls lacrosse team came in actually watched her in spring games and cheered her on while she was running. In fact, one of her teammates was her helper during that point in time. They had parties with her, birthday parties, bowling parties with her. You know, they take her out, they’ve made her a part of the team.”
Charlie says “They get in the huddles before the game, sit on the bench, the team dinners etc. these are kids that wouldn’t be out in the field competing but they get the experience of it.”
“Team Up for 1” also throws MVP ceremonies for each child and CBS 21 was there when Izzy and Mitchell were given their trophies and were able to enjoy another part of team festivities.
Mitchell’s dad says because of his older brothers, Mitch has been involved in lacrosse since he was in a stroller.
Doug Pollock, Mitchell’s dad says, “As soon as we knew we were a Team Up for 1 family, we were looking for a lacrosse team immediately, York College is the closest and this is working out great.”
Brandon Childs, Men’s Lacrosse Coach York College says, “Mitch brings a lot of fun to our team. It just gives them another opportunity to have a meaningful college experience. So just as much as it is about giving back, we get a whole lot out of it ourselves. Just one more way that we can shape these guys to become better men off the field.”