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Camp Cheerful's adapted football league brings inclusivity to Northeast Ohio

Cleveland Browns Adaptive Football League Camp Cheerful
Posted at 4:34 PM, Jun 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-29 16:34:15-04

STRONGSVILLE, Ohio — Elijah Yoder loves everything about football—especially going head-to-head against others. But he didn't always see an opportunity to play the sport.

"When I was younger, I didn't really know what I was going to do with my life and everything, and then I found the Achievement Centers, and adaptive sports, and they really helped me out with my development," Yoder said.

At the Achievement Centers for Children's Camp Cheerful in Strongsville, Elijah gets to participate in the game he loves as part of the Cleveland Browns Adapted Football League.

For the past 11 years, the organization's adaptive football league has helped players with disabilities develop their skills while competing against each other.

The league has four divisions of co-ed youth ages 7 and up and is organized based on abilities, with competition against players at a similar skill level.

"It's an awesome competition. These athletes are out here playing just like anybody else," said Ryan Holesko, manager of Adapted Sports.

Adapted football is played as a modified version of flag football, with some changes to equipment and rules to ensure inclusivity, while also ensuring players grow their skills while also having fun.

"A lot of these players love the game of football or just love sports in general," Holesko said.

Yoder is a star on Cleveland Browns Adapted Football League wheelchair team, which holds hybrid practices and game experiences once a week, running through drills and skill lessons before splitting off into teams and facing each other on the modified gridiron.

"I just love competing, I love the competition," Yoder said.

Camp Cheerful in Strongsville also offers Adapted Baseball, Adapted Soccer and Jr. Wheelchair basketball so that athletes across the board can participate in their favorite sports.

To learn more about Camp Cheerful, click here.

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