Joshua Land, 18, of East Greenwich, Rhode Island, a senior at East Greenwich High School, has played a leading role in coaching, teaching and mentoring kids with physical or intellectual disabilities in youth baseball, basketball, soccer and football programs. “Sports have always been a large part of my life,” said Joshua. “When I found out that there was an organization in town that made the same experiences happen for children with developmental disabilities, I felt I had to take part.” In fifth grade, he began volunteering for his local Little League Challenger baseball program, teaching kids the rules of the game; how to hit, throw and field the ball; and how to run bases.
Before long, Joshua also had signed up to coach basketball in the winter, soccer in the spring and fall, and flag football in late autumn. As with baseball, he teaches young athletes the fundamentals of each sport, supervises practice drills, and guides them as they play actual games, either with each other or with teams from other towns. All the while, Joshua strives to be a constant source of encouragement for each player, and to make sure all of his athletes have the best possible experience. Joshua has been honored and promoted by the organizations he has served for his dedication and for helping to build and expand their programs, which have become models for other communities. “The children I’ve had the pleasure of playing with are an inspiration for me,” said Joshua. “The challenges they face seem insurmountable, yet they constantly persevere and live their best lives.”