News/Trending Parenting Special Needs

NFL Player Hosts Special Athletes Club for Children with Disabilities

Former New York Jets and Michigan State University linebacker Taiwan Jones is on a mission to make all children feel included and a part of the rewarding world of sports. Inspired by a neighborhood friend with special needs who went to Jones’s gym and confided in him that he’d always wanted to play sports, Jones has created the Special Athletes Club for differently-abled children ages 1-18 who wish to hone their athletic skills and enjoy the camaraderie associated with being a member of a team.

The Special Athletes Club, to be hosted at Anchor Bay High School in Ira Twp, Michigan, is set to take place on 3 Saturdays in February, 2018: February 3, 10, and 17. The athletic club is broken down into 3 age groups — 5 to 10 years, 11 to 14 years, and 15+ years — and is suitable for all children with varying disabilities and degrees of need. Additionally, Jones is offering a special rate for the first 70 children to sign up: a $60 flat fee for participation in all 3 scheduled club times.

Perhaps best of all? Jones is not doing this to make money or seek recognition. Rather, he aims to provide an inclusive opportunity for all children to experience the joys of the world of sports.

“There’s nothing like [this] for kids like [my neighbor] to be a part of,” says Jones. “And I have a few of my college teammates being a part of this as well and pretty much, I’m doing this to just make a difference for kids who were not as fortunate as me to be a part of a sports club or team.”

Can you say love? I’ve not met Jones (yet), but when I do, I hope he’s ready for the biggest hug of his life.

My own son, who is 7 and suffered a stroke in utero, resulting in hemiparesis and cerebral palsy, is a football fanatic (and a die-hard Michigan State fan), and naturally, as soon as my husband learned about Jones’s Special Athletes Club, he contacted Jones via Twitter to learn more about the details. Jones was quick to respond, and within 24 hours, we had our son signed up. Because even though it will be over an hour drive for us to get our child there, opportunities like this are few and far between, and the chance to get group and individual athletic training and bonding time with former college and professional athletes is one-of-a-kind and well worth the cost and travel time.

Jones, who played linebacker for Michigan State University from 2011-2014 and was part of the university’s most winning seasons, helping to lead the team to the Cotton Bowl and the 100th Rose Bowl, is a former Anchor Bay High School student (the venue for the Special Athletes Club). After college, Jones played for the New York Jets from 2015-2016 and is currently devoting much of his time to improving the lives of young athletes, specifically those with special needs.

I can’t wait for my son to participate in this amazing club, and neither can my son. With talent like Jones’s leading instruction, and with heart like Jones’s dedicated to giving back, both to his community and to all children with special needs, I am 100% positive this will be a rewarding experience these kids will never forget.

To learn more about Jones’s Special Athletes Club, visit his website or contact him at (586) 277-4029. You can also follow Jones on Twitter at @TJ_Spartan34 for club and other updates about his pursuits or to send him a private message.

If you’re in the area — even within a couple hours of it — and have a child who would benefit from this amazing opportunity, I can’t encourage you enough to check out this offering and sign up. And if you know anyone who might be interested, please pass this along.

This is the difference-maker so many kids need and will love.