PVNC INSPIRES: Grade 4 St. Anthony CES student throws opening pitch at Jays game

Girl in Jays uniform

April 26, 2022

Sarah Patterson celebrated for participating in school’s Girls at Bat and Challenger Baseball program

To celebrate her achievements in sport at the school level, a Grade 4 student from St. Anthony Catholic Elementary School had the opportunity to throw the ceremonial pitch at the April 25 Blue Jays game.

Sarah Patterson was introduced before the crowd of 20,981 spectators. One of the proudest people in attendance was her teacher Allison Jaques, who facilitated the school’s Girls At Bat and Challenger Baseball programs this year, which brought Patterson, a student with Down Syndrome, off the sidelines and into the game thanks to this inclusive Jays Care program.

“Sarah is a Grade 4 student from St. Anthony Catholic Elementary School in Port Hope, Ontario. Sarah has been participating in her school’s Girls at Bat and Challenger Baseball program,” the home game announcer told the crowd.

“She was nominated by her teacher to be celebrated for her great participation with their Jays Care Affiliate School Program. Her standout moment was bravely volunteering to demonstrate how to hit the ball off a tee, to her entire team. Sarah demonstrated great confidence in her abilities. Her confidence has grown tremendously during this program and has allowed her to make connections with her peers throughout the school. Please welcome Sarah to the field for our ceremonial opening pitch!”

Jays Care Foundation runs free programming for schools, including the Girls At Bat and Challenger Baseball programs for which Jaques facilitated at St. Anthony CES.

Jays Care provided all the necessary equipment to run the programs (bats, tees, bases, balls, gloves, etc.), a training session for coaches, as well as a coaching manual which outlines the eight-weeks of sessions for each affiliate school.

Students and coaches also receive Blue Jays hats and t-shirts for completing the program. This program is designed to encourage students who usually sit on the sidelines to participate in sport. This is an inclusive program which is easily modified to meet the needs of all students. This program introduces students to the game of baseball/softball and builds community and teamwork.

Jaques ran that program with her class during physical education periods from February to April.

“As a coach/teacher this was an amazing program to run. Each session was laid out nicely and provided alternative activities based on skill level. This is a fast-paced program where students are always moving from one activity to the next and it kept my students very engaged and they had a lot of fun,” Jaques said.

“The emphasis is really on building confidence, teamwork, and encouraging each other. Growing up playing softball in Peterborough, I loved being able to introduce students to the sport who have not had the opportunity before. The Jays Care team was also great in answering any questions that I had and the resources they provide are top notch.”

When asked to report on the progress of the program at the school level, Jaques used Patterson’s experience as a success story.

“Usually, Sarah sits on the sidelines during gym class, but all throughout this program she always participated and volunteered to hit the ball off of the tee,” Jaques said.

And on April 25, Patterson upped her game once again, throwing a pitch in front of the Blue Jays home crowd.