Greg Story, Senior Pastor of Jasper First Church of the Nazarene, said the congregation already has 150 kids participating in their Upward Flag Football and Cheerleading program.
Upward combines sports instruction with character building through Bible study.
“It’s really big on building positive self-esteem,” Story said.
Jasper First Church of the Nazarene has had an Upward team for five years. Story said that recently about five church members with special needs expressed interest in participating, but their parents were concerned about injuries.
“That brought on the process of us starting a league just for them,” he said.
Story said officials from the church collaborated with Jennifer Williams Smith, who helped establish Jasper’s Dream Team, a sports program for children with special needs.
Smith said several members of the Dream Team have expressed interest in the flag football program. Jasper’s Dream Team already has baseball, soccer and swimming teams.
“Sometimes we take for granted all the opportunities our children have to choose a sport,” she said. “So, this is just another great thing to offer.”
Jasper First Nazarene’s current flag football league is for children age 5 to 12. Story said the new team will be for anyone with a disability, regardless of age.
Story said church officials have also installed lighting at First Nazarene ball field because many of the players with special needs or disabilities cannot play during daytime hours.
Story said both teams will practice once a week and play a game on Thursday evenings.
The season will run from Sept. 8 through the first Saturday in November.
Anyone interested in signing up for the Dream Team Upward Flag Football team can register at the church today from 6 to 8 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon.