YMCA, Humble ISD take big step in being inclusive


Sophomore Freddie Lillie and freshman Ella Cockrell join some other students on an activity at the playground that is part of the new Insperity Adaptive Sports Complex. There are also two baseball fields and a covered court. Photo contributed by Shana Guy

Humble ISD partnered with the YMCA last year to bring an all-new adaptive sports complex to the Humble ISD/Lake Houston areas. Finished and opened in late 2017, the purpose of the facility is to present children and young adults with a diversity of disabilities the opportunity to participate in team and individual sports and to also provide them with a barrier-free playground.

Meredith Silcox, the Adaptive Programs director at the Lake Houston YMCA, works at the facility and calls it her baby.

“Our facility is one of a kind and has one of the only few barrier-free playgrounds in Houston,” she said.

The land between Groves Elementary School and Westlake Middle School was donated by Humble ISD, and the YMCA raised the funds to make the dream come true.

“It was a collaboration between Humble ISD, the Y and Insperity, who donated enough money to have the complex named after them,” said Silcox.

The Insperity Adaptive Sports Complex has two multi-purpose baseball fields, a covered court, and a large playground. The fields, donated by the Astros Foundation, are made of a special rubber turf and host Miracle League baseball games and soccer games throughout the year.

“On game days there’s really a great atmosphere for the kids,” Silcox said. “We have announcers, concessions, and we let the kids pick their walk-up songs. It really feels like a minor league game.”

The complex has a concession stand that is run by the Humble ISD Mosaic program, which is for young adults with special needs. The kids work the concession stand throughout the day, selling hot dogs, nachos, candy and more.

“It’s great to have them getting experience for jobs they may have in the future,” Silcox said. “It brings people joy to see kids of all ages being provided an opportunity to participate, learn, and most of all, to have fun.”

Since the opening of the program, the total number of Miracle League participants has gone from 40 to 125.

“Registration for sports is free to all families, and you don’t have to be a member of the Y or attend Humble ISD schools,” Silcox said. “The Astros Foundation provides jerseys for all kids, parents help by donating gear, the Y provides refs; it’s a big community effort.”

The complex is used by the YMCA and Humble ISD year round, with the schools using it during the school hours and the Y using it after school hours and on school breaks.

In early October, Panther Pals took a field trip to the complex. Shana Guy, the campus’s transition specialist, works with the special education children on campus and loves seeing the kids get to play. She said that each high school gets a field day at the complex.

Guy said seeing the kids play and have fun is the most rewarding part of her job.
“It lights up your day, their smiles are so contagious,” she said.

Silcox said that volunteers are always needed at the complex, and she encourages anyone to volunteer.
Students age 12 and over can become buddies and help out the special education students while on the field. Silcox has asked that those interested in volunteering at the complex contact the YMCA.

“We’re volunteer and donor based, so there’s always a need for volunteers,” she said.