SquashCares, a non-profit corporation, was started by Sydney Soloway, an avid squash player and a junior at the Dana Hall School in Wellesley, MA. SquashCares uses the sport of squash to help make the world a better place. Currently, we have two programs that leverage squash. We collect dead squash balls and create ball blankets for people with ADHD and autism. We also collect used squash equipment and distribute it to urban squash programs.
Our ball blanket project was inspired by a squash club in Finland that reused its dead squash balls and created ball blankets for kids with ADHD and autism and then gave them away to people who could use them. Sydney also has two significantly developmentally disabled cousins, and she has seen how beneficial ball blankets can be.
Balls and Ball Blankets
Since SquashCares started in September 2014, we have collected over 10,000 dead squash balls. More than 300 volunteers at five sewing events have sewed the balls into 45 ball blankets. The blankets have been donated to autistic individuals and ten organizations servicing hundreds of people with disabilities. Recipient organizations include – The Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation for Autism, Cooperative for Human Services, TILL- Toward Independent Living and Learning, Autism Alliance of Metrowest, The Walker School, Cardinal Cushing School, The Shared Living Collaborative, The Gifford School, the Lurie Center for Autism at the Massachusetts General Hospital for Children, The Higginson Lewis K-8 School, and the John Silber Early Learning Center.
These ball blankets are constructed from fleece and one hundred to three hundred balls, depending on the weight of the child, and are suitable for children weighing from fifty to one hundred fifty pounds. For more information, see our accompanying pages.
As a junior squash player, Sydney recognized that she and many of her friends were replacing their rackets and shoes before they were broken or no longer useful. She realized that much of this equipment was valuable for people just starting the game or in need of equipment. In addition, by reusing the equipment, waste is removed from landfills.
As a result of these needs, so far, SquashCares has collected over 225 pieces of squash equipment! We have collected 108 squash rackets through our racket program for donation to two urban squash programs – CitySquash and Squash Haven. Our shoe program has resulted in the collection of 97 pairs of squash shoes for donation to Squash Haven, SquashBusters and the PSA ReBound program. In addition, Dunlop Sports donated 20 new pairs of goggles which were donated by SquashCares to middle school squash players at the November 2016 SquashBusters ball blanket sewing event. These contributions allow important programs to bring squash to students who might not otherwise have the chance to play squash. We welcome inquires from other programs that might benefit from used squash shoes and rackets.
Looking to get involved?
You can learn more about our projects on this website. We are actively soliciting new potential recipients of ball blankets. Please reach out to Sydney if you would like a ball blanket or know of someone who could benefit from one. You can also contact us to contribute your dead squash balls or your used rackets and shoes.
Interested in creating your own ball blanket? There are approximately 500,000 squash balls dumped into the waste stream annually; that’s too many balls for us to recycle into ball blankets! We need help from people worldwide to eliminate a more substantial amount of balls from the waste stream and to create more ball blankets for autistic and ADHD individuals.
SquashCares would love to involve schools and organizations by having them host their own sewing events. We can help you create your own ball blankets. Based on a generous donation from Polartec, we have fleece we can give to you for your blankets, and you can learn how to sew blankets from our step-by-step tutorial. We’d also be happy to provide you with our flyers and organizational tips for your event. All you need are balls (and we can probably help you with those too), sewing machines, thread, rulers, masking tape and volunteers.
In 2017-18, we will be expanding our efforts into Philadelphia, New York and Providence as a result of our relationships with the community service organizations of Drexel University, Parsons School of Design and Rhode Island School of Design. If you are a high school squash player in those areas and would like to participate in SquashCares, please reach out to us as we need feet on the ground to coordinate ball collection activities in those areas and volunteers.
If you want to participate in our programs, please reach out to Sydney Soloway at firstname.lastname@example.org. We appreciate your support and participation!