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Lee's Summit couple builds inclusive youth soccer program for around 50 special needs athletes

KCSG Stars program aims at bringing inclusive soccer experience to Missouri families
Posted at 5:39 AM, Sep 12, 2023

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A Kansas City couple is giving children often-sidelined in youth recreational sports the chance to play soccer.

Inspired by their son Oliver, the Lamb family founded Kansas City Scott Gallagher S.T.A.R.S. (Success Through Adapted Rec Soccer), a soccer program aimed at providing an adaptive and inclusive soccer experience for children with special needs

"We had tried to have him (Oliver) participate in numerous "regular" soccer programs and it just wasn't fair on him, other kids in the programs or the coaches he was working with," S.T.A.R.S. founder Jessica Lamb explained. "Sometimes, our kids are sidelined because they may not learn the same way as other kids, so this allows them to have a safe space to be themselves."

The program was launched earlier this year with their fall season kicking off last week, with approximately 50 athletes taking part and over 60 volunteers.

S.T.A.R.S.

"I'm a sister of a 15-year-old with autism, he's completely nonverbal so the fact that he can come out here and play soccer, this is the only place that he can do that and it's just amazing," Jenna Tiedmann said.

Guiding athletes through drills and goals is a team of trained coaches, special needs experts and volunteers making sure the soccer field is safe and inclusive for all. Lamb says the club is always looking for volunteers, ideally high school-aged children or people with a special education background to give back to these athletes.

"My kid gets the most excited about being part of a team, so he wakes up ready to come back and be part of the S.T.A.R.S. program, he gets to be [with] all of his friends, teammates and they play together," parent Alli Kisner said.

Registration is still open, and you can catch the stars in action every Saturday morning until Oct. 14 at Paragon Star Sports Complex from 9 a.m to 9:45 a.m.

"You have other kids who are going through the same things and they learn the same way, so this is showing the world showing the community what these kids can do," Lamb said.