It's the season for spring sports, especially soccer, but kids with disabilities are often sidelined. A program in Cumberland County is giving them a chance to play as well.
The program is called TOPS and it stands for The Outreach Program for Soccer.
Every Sunday for 6 weeks in the spring and fall, children with all kinds of disabilities are paired up with a buddy. The buddies are teen volunteers who want to help. "They are matched up one on one with players who provide encouragement and support and direction," said Eric Bowman who runs the TOPS program.
Johnny Heffner, 16, of Enola is autistic. His father is thrilled, "I'm really thrilled that my son gets to play soccer and I can tell him he's a soccer player now and he's happy to do it," said John Heffner.
Jack Farrell, 9, of Boiling Springs is also autistic. His dad says Jack is having a ball playing with the other children with special needs. "He enjoys being outside. He enjoys other people and he's really having a good time coming out and playing," said Mark Farrell.
The teen buddies also like working with the kids, "I feel awesome. After every practice, I feel refreshed about life and I feel happy and positive," said Lindsey Schwenger.
Although the spring season is over, sign up has begun for players and buddies for the fall.
You can sign up at hmms-soccer.org. The program is free and open to children from all over Central Pennsylvania.