Assistants help students with disabilities fit into mainstream classrooms everyday. Now they’re increasingly pitching in on the ball field as well.

A new legion of so-called “inclusion companions” or “leisure buddies” is helping kids with disabilities by providing extra, personalized coaching on the sidelines. The assistance enables these kids to play organized sports right alongside their typically developing peers.

Depending on a child’s needs, an assistant could guide a child on where to stand while playing defense, provide instruction on interacting with teammates or literally translate using sign language.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Proponents of the model say everyone gains from including kids of differing abilities in sports. Children with disabilities learn valuable social skills and everyone learns to be accepting of differences.

But there are concerns as children age and sports tend to get more competitive. “If parents don’t see their kids doing well on the field, they pull them,” one expert told the Chicago Tribune. To read more click here.