BOISE, Idaho — Gabriel Moreno started Game Changers Idaho in 2018. It's a nonprofit in Boise that originally started as a Flag Football program, but now it offers a number of sports to kids (K-12th grade) with and without disabilities. The idea is to have the kids play sports together, and encourage inclusion.
“Friendly, adaptable sports for these kids just simply to have fun,” 29-year-old Moreno said.
The program has grown in popularity in a very short time. Now, Game Changers Idaho is expanding with the addition of Little Game Changers, an opportunity for kids with disabilities ages three to five to reap the benefits of getting involved in sports sooner. Moreno is passionate about giving all kids with special needs the opportunity to play sports, he just has a giving heart.
Moreno works at Hillside Junior High School in Boise as an academic interventionist for refugee students. He teaches them math and study skills, and helps them with adjusting to the United States.
The Game Changers Idaho program is something he dedicates himself to off-hours, and it always been a dream of his.
“We're starting them off really young, and once they get to kindergarten, and going through the twelfth grade, they will get to play year-round in our program with kids just like them,” Moreno said. “We're going to be putting on separate little sporting drills, and we have a ton of volunteers here to help. We partnered with D1 Training using their facilities.”
D1 Training in Meridian is excited to be a part of Little Game Changers, and Moreno’s mission.
"We love being a part of the Boise community and giving back as much as possible. But the biggest thing is seeing the sense of satisfaction on these kids’ faces because they don't get to do stuff like this very often,” Tanner Lowry of D1 Training said. "We're super happy to host and super happy to be a part of it.”
Little Game Changers will work with each child and their specific needs.
“We're going to be patient with them, we're going to teach them sports,” said Moreno. “There are a lot more kids in this valley that can benefit from this program.”
Four-year-old Aeson Brost is one of the participants, he has autism. His mom Allison was thrilled to hear about this opportunity for her son.
“It's hard to find sports for kids like Aeson, so this has just been a really heartwarming experience for us,” Allison Brost, Aeson’s mom, said. “It's been great with social skills, trying to get him out with other kids, involved in sports.”
All the sports are modified for each child's ability, with the help of an amazing team of volunteers.
“We're continuing to find really good people in our community to help our program grow,” said Moreno. “We're finding BSU students, educators, teenage kids, kids in kindergarten that want to help other people.”
Little Game Changers has been a wonderful activity for Aeson. It’s improving his mobility, coordination, social skills, and giving him the sensory stimulation he needs.
“I recommend it to all kids with special needs, it's been a great atmosphere to bring your kids knowing they are safe here everybody has an aide to work with them,” said Allison Brost. “It has just been an amazing experience, we’re very blessed.”
What makes this program for preschoolers even more special is that it's free!
Little Game Changers depends on donations and is looking for a sponsor for the next event on April 25th. If you have a 3-5-year-old in your life who you want to be a part of Little Game Changers, you can register online. For more information on Game Changers Idaho and its mission, click here.
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