Darrien Tan and his father, Patrick, were driving back from volunteering at a soccer program for children with intellectual and physical disabilities in Norfolk when Darrien, a sophomore at Wellesley High School, asked a simple question: “Why doesn’t Wellesley have a program like this?”

The younger Tan, along with friends and fellow students, began working on bringing The Outreach Program for Soccer (TOPSoccer) to Wellesley late last year. On Friday, after multiple presentations to the Wellesley United Soccer Club and parents of children with special needs to gain support, Wellesley TOPSoccer held its first game on the fields adjacent to Sprague Elementary School.  

The program gives kids with special needs a chance to play with others from their own community and find a sense of belonging that has been difficult to come by for some, according to parents. It also comes with the added bonus of playing with the older high school and middle school students who serve as volunteers.

Mason Smith, who brought her son Logan to the first set of games, said, “Wellesley is such a sports-oriented town, but there’s not much for kids with special needs.”

Now, all of the participants have numbered jerseys with a crest over the heart that reads “Wellesley United.”

 “We’ve been looking for something for our son for a while,” Lindsay Jones, whose son Conner suffers from a rare genetic disorder, said. “They just want to feel like they’re a part of something.”

 Read more: Soccer program offers kids with special needs a league of their own – Wellesley, Massachusetts – The Wellesley Townsman http://www.wickedlocal.com/wellesley/features/x1213309593/Soccer-program-offers-kids-with-special-needs-a-league-of-their-own#ixzz2S8l51zlM 

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