Wednesday, September 03, 2014

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NYer of the Week: Lizette Hernandez Creates Little League for Kids With Autism

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There are many baseball diamonds in the Bronx, besides the famous one at Yankee Stadium, but the latest New Yorker of Week created a special Little League for her son and other kids with autism. NY1's John Schiumo filed the following report.

Making good contact, rounding the bases, learning the game. It's everything Lizette Hernandez wanted so her son, Donovan, could feel like a real Bronx Bomber.

"I love to hit the ball," Donovan Hernandez said.

For Lizette, though, finding a league nearby tailored to children with autism was difficult.

“We would have to travel from the Bronx all the way up to Westchester so he can play, and I just kept thinking, 'Why can't we have this here? Why is it so impossible for us to have something like this for our children in our own community?'" Lizette Hernandez said.

So Lizette made it happen. She created the "Bronxchester Challenger League." Every Saturday, dozens of kids step up to the plate, ready to play. They set the pace of the game, and the fun is in full swing.

The league also fosters a community free to enjoy sports without feeling ashamed.

"My intention was to create a space for us to come together and not feel judged or looked at, or have those, like, disgusting stares that we get sometimes when we're around people who don't understand," Lizette Hernandez said.

"I haven't felt more comfortable ever in an environment because there's no judgement," said Sasha Lopez, a parent of a participant in the Bronxchester Challenger League. "Our kids have similarities. It's almost like you're with family."

Other parents are thankful for an opportunity to practice athletic and social skills.

"It helps him to be more sociable with other kids," said Bianca Malabe, a parent of a participant in the Bronxchester Challenger League. "He doesn't have siblings his age, so coming out here, playing in the field, it helps him out in that sense."

"The fact that she's taken the time to put this together, not just for herself and her son, but for other kids, it's amazing," Malabe added.

These transformations are Lizette's true victories.

"Everybody gets stuck on baseball and how it's supposed to look, but once you think outside the box, it looks perfect to me," she said.

NY1 agrees. That's why Lizette Hernandez is the latest New Yorker of the Week.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

For more information about the Bronxchester Challenger League, go to bronxchesterlittleleague.com.

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