Spotlight: NYC Autism Charter Schools’ Hosts Annual All-Star Game at the Field of Dreams
On May 19, young scholars from throughout New York City had the opportunity to show off their baseball skills at NYC Autism Charter Schools’ annual All-Star game at the Field of Dreams in Manhattan. The game, the first played since the COVID-pause, was attended by more than 150 parents, caregivers, and other members of the school’s close-knitted community of supporters. Former Major League Baseball player Chris Capuano, who played 12 years in the majors for six teams including the Yankees and the Mets, served as the game’s pitcher and guided the young scholars through fielding drills. Rafael Salamanca Jr., District 17 City Council member, threw out the first pitch.
“This game serves as a great way to showcase all the students have learned and celebrate how amazing they are as individuals,” said NYC Autism Charter Schools’ Executive Director Julie Fisher, welcoming the crowd.
Scholars took turns, throwing the ball, hitting off a batting tee (or Capuano’s pitch) before running the bases to raucous applause, often with assistance of one of NYC Autism Schools’ dedicated teaching staff. “We are the champions” blared from speakers behind home plate and an MC announced each child individually to bat, serving up nicknames and lighthearted commentary – “Z money is running the bases like Sonic” – keeping the children and fans smiling throughout the two-hour game.
Parents there to cheer their scholar on were also quick to lavish praise on NYC Autism Charter Schools, which operates campuses in the Bronx and East Harlem, and is recognized as the first public charter school in New York State devoted solely to serving children with autism.
“NYC Autism Charter Schools supports not just academics, but also help students navigate noise toleration and other sensory issues both in the school setting and at home,” said Yahaira, mother of 9-year-old Matthew “The Beast”, now in his third year at NYC Autism Schools. Yahaira, who credited the school’s enrichment programs for helping Matthew grow, was accompanied at the game by her mother and several family members. When asked if Matthew was a baseball fan before today, Yahaira was quick to respond.
“He is now.”
The field of dreams, indeed.