“Let’s go out and play ball.”How many times did we say this when we were younger? How often, even these days? But there, embedded in that simple question, is a world of magic.Running with friends, arguing about balls and strikes, great throws, monster hits.But for kids with unique challenges, that magic can be elusive.Who do you play with if you have trouble making friends? How do you argue pitches if speaking is difficult? How do you run the bases if you are in a wheelchair? It can take another type of baseball magic to overcome these barriers. And that’s where the “Buddy Baseball” program – started in the US – steps to the plate and knocks it out of the park.In an exciting development this week, it was announced that Friendship Circle Central Jerusalem, together with Kraft Stadium and the Feuerstein Institute, will kick off Buddy Baseball for children with special needs in Israel, on Thursday evening, March 31, at Jerusalem’s Kraft Stadium.The inaugural game in the Holy Land – anticipated to be the start of a full-fledged program – will be held under the auspices of Dean Klassman, the man at the helm of Buddy Baseball in Chicago. The season will continue with monthly games throughout the summer.A non-competitive, friendship- building league, Buddy Baseball provides an opportunity for boys and girls with special needs to build self-esteem and create warm, lasting memories on the baseball field.Designed to instill a feeling of accomplishment, the Buddy Baseball program puts the kids in the batters’ box until they get on base.Partnering special-needs players with “buddy” volunteers gives children who may have never played sports with a friend the chance to experience teamwork, camaraderie and the magic of excelling in an athletic environment.Friendship Circle Central Jerusalem is a one-stop portal into the world of children with special needs, pairing them with devoted volunteers in different sectors who become friends and family.Mayor Nir Barkat and other dignitaries hope to attend the Jerusalem proceedings. The initiative hopes to help build the Israeli capital into a special city that caters to the needs of all of its citizens.