People with disabilities are members of our community: the children of friends, neighbors, relatives; our classmates and coworkers. Kids with special needs are estimated to make up approximately 10% of the school-age population. Special schools and classrooms can isolate these children, so the AYSO VIP program has been structured to integrate our special players into the rest of AYSO by having non-disabled players—"buddies"—assist them on the field. These relationships frequently grow beyond support into meaningful friendships.
VIP helps more than just the players. Buddies and other volunteers increase their appreciation and understanding of individuals with special needs. They find their lives greatly enriched by their involvement with their new VIP friends. For parents thinking they would never see their children playing a sport or making new friends, VIP gives them joy and hope. They are able to relax and enjoy watching their children having fun like other kids, perhaps for the first time.