Sports Program Focuses on Abilities

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STROUDSBURG -- One organization in the Poconos is giving children with special needs a chance to show off their athletic abilities.

The opportunity is also improving their life skills.

That's why Bob Cooney decided to add the sport to his growing program called Challenger Sports Programs of Monroe County, a non-profit organization that gives children with special needs an opportunity to play sports, while helping to strengthen their life skills.

"To see these kids get involved in a sport, work with each other as a team, it spills over into everyday life," said Cooney, the director of Challenger Sports Programs.

For six years, the Challenger Sports Program has offered basketball and baseball.

Now, it's adding soccer to its roster of sports activities.

Cooney believes in getting children with special needs involved in sports because he's seen the benefit through his son R.J., who has Down syndrome.

"You see them now, they're in school, confident, communicating with one another. It's just awesome," said Cooney.

One of the coaches of the sports teams said working with the kids is fulfilling. She said she has seen R.J. improve his abilities.

"Over the years, he's able to get the basketball into the net, he's able to run, he's able to dribble, he hits the ball on his own, which is great. He's an awesome kid," said Samantha Elliott, a Challenger Sports Program Coach.

Sign-up for the Challenger Soccer Program is going on now at the Pocono Family YMCA in Stroudsburg.

The Challenger Soccer season kicks off on Sunday, October 7 inside Pocono Mountain East High School's gymnasium, giving the players even more opportunity to play rain or shine.

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