Soccer program helps provide an inclusive experience for children

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Before now, playing a team sport like soccer, was just a dream for six-year-old Ella Van Boxtel. 

Ella has Prader-Willi Syndorme which causes her to tire easily and her muscles to become very weak.

Ella’s mom Julie Van Boxtel said through TOPSoccer her daughter can now play in a safe enviroment. 

“We felt safe knowing it was going to be at her pace and she was going to be able to be on a team with other friends,” said Van Boxtel. “Because of her disability, there’s such a gap between her physical delay and her peers.”

Program Director Katie Ellsworth said each player has two volunteer “soccer buddies” to assist them at games. 

“The kids love these teenagers and the teenagers were just wonderful to them,” said Ellsworth. “This program is just a great time for the kids to make new friends.”  

Ellsworth said TOPSoccer focuses on inclusiveness, skill development, building friendships, and most importantly, fun.  

Ella’s mom said she was brought to tears seeing her daughter on the field for the first time. 

“I was crying because she was able to be a typical kid, she was able to be a typical second-grader,” said Van Boxtel. 

Lake Country’s next TOPSoccer game is scheduled for Saturday, April 13th.  

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