Mill Valley, CA | 16
2014 Award Recipient
Tyler Barbee was inspired by watching his older brother manage the challenges of autism. Tyler recognized that his brother’s participation in school programs and engagement with peers greatly improved his social skills. His brother’s example led Tyler to consider how he could help other teens with special needs explore, expand, and celebrate their own abilities. This led Tyler to form a local chapter of Challenger Baseball, an established division of the National Little League that facilitates kids with special needs’ participation in community-based sports programs. Once Tyler had created a Challenger Baseball league in his own community, he went further and created Challenger Basketball on the same premise. Tyler has forged connections between mainstream competitive teams and special needs teams, creating opportunities for all participants to experience teamwork, independence, and self-confidence. The skills players acquire through the program extend beyond the field, empowering them socially and academically. Tyler has already helped to launch Challenger in three communities, and plans to expand the program further through a new nonprofit he has formed, Project Awareness and Special Sports.
Project Awareness and Special Sports has forged connections between mainstream competitive teams and special needs teams, creating opportunities for all participants to experience teamwork, independence, and self-confidence.