Little League International to Host Sixth Annual Urban Initiative Jamboree
Ten regular season teams from urban communities and neighborhoods will be making the memorable trip to Williamsport, Pa., the home of Little League Baseball and Softball, for the sixth annual Little League Urban Initiative Jamboree, over the extended Memorial Day Weekend, May 22-25.
These children from Urban Initiative leagues (six Major Division teams; four Junior Division teams) will be embarking on a unique and educational journey when they travel to Little League International, site of the annual Little League Baseball World Series.
“The Little League Urban Initiative has filled a void in many neighborhoods, and allowed the Little League program to become a cornerstone for many metropolitan communities,” Stephen D. Keener, President and Chief Executive Officer of Little League Baseball and Softball, said. “The relevance and impact of the Urban Initiative Jamboree is evident by the enthusiasm of those who participate. The smiles on the faces of the players, parents and local league officials attending the annual Jamboree express that success, but moreover illustrate the appreciation for the program, and reinforce how important a role Little League can play in a child’s life.”
On May 23-24, games will be played at Howard J. Lamade and Little League Volunteer Stadiums, sites of the annual World Series games; along with Carl Stotz Memorial Field, near the site of the first Little League games in 1939, and home to Original League. The Junior Division teams will play on the two standard-size fields at the Little League International complex.
For the past five years, regular-season teams from leagues aided by, or chartered through, the Urban Initiative traveled to Little League International from various points throughout the country.
“The Urban Initiative Jamboree provides a unique opportunity for children who would not normally have the means to visit the Little League International complex,” Demiko Ervin, Director of the Little League Urban Initiative, said. “The coaches and families will experience the friendship and celebration that all-star players enjoy during the Little League Baseball World Series, while the players will get the chance to play on the same fields where Little League’s world champion is crowned, and where the program started.”
Participating in the Jamboree will be Little League programs from the following cities: Dayton, Ohio (First Dayton Little League); Lancaster, Pa. (Lancaster Parks and Recreation Little League); Memphis, Tenn. (Memphis Little League); Seattle (Seattle Central Little League); Houston (South Central Little League); Fairburn, Ga. (South Fulton Little League). The Junior Division teams participating are from Syracuse, N.Y., (Inner City Little League); Jersey City, N.J. (Jackie Robinson Little League); Tampa (Skyway Park Little League); and Detroit (THINK Detroit PAL Northwest Little League). One volunteer umpire from each league also will participate.
The Little League Urban Initiative Jamboree will consist of games, instruction, and other events to be announced. Although scores will be kept for the games, no champion will be declared. The public is invited to watch the games at no charge.
The Baseball Factory will attend the Jamboree and provide a skills challenge and instruction for all Jamboree players.
“Each year the Urban Initiative Jamboree offers children a unique opportunity to visit Little League’s birthplace and experience all the sites and sounds enjoyed by teams that reach the Little League Baseball World Series,” Patrick W. Wilson, Little League International’s Vice President of Operations, said. “For five years, Jamboree participants have reveled in the chance to play on the World Series fields. Equally satisfying has been the appreciation and respect expressed by the coaches and families who recognize that these found memories will be theirs forever.”
Because many of the Little League Urban Initiative leagues and independent organizations operating in these environments face the same problems, networking opportunities are crucial to the growth of a volunteer-based organization. Little League encourages mentoring relationships with other Urban Initiative leagues, working toward positive relationships with the appropriate municipal agencies, developing an assessment of their program’s budgetary needs and concerns, and compiling a list of funding opportunities in their communities.
The Little League Urban Initiative has seen success in 85 U.S. cities since it began in 2000, and has participated in 28 field renovation/development projects.
Van Nest Little League, Parkchester Little League and Bronxchester Little League in The Bronx, N.Y., and Lents Little League in Portland, Ore., recently unveiled field renovation projects. These were among several leagues that received funding and assistance through the Little League Urban Initiative.
Major League Baseball (MLB), founding partner of the Jamboree, continues to provide educational materials for the event as it has for the first five years. This year, MLB will provide the opportunity to present Breaking Barriers: In Sports, In Life, to all Jamboree participants. The Breaking Barriers program is multi-curricular character education program that was developed by MLB and Scholastic Inc. This program utilizes baseball-themed features, activities and lessons to teach children in grades 4-8 the values and traits they need to deal with the barriers and challenges in their lives. Using baseball as a metaphor for life, the curriculum is based on nine values demonstrated by the late Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson.
Currently, more than 200 local Little Leagues in the U.S. are part of the Urban Initiative. Through 2008, the program has stimulated the addition of nearly 3,900 teams and 50,000 players.
Little League corporate partners providing support for the Jamboree are: Dick's Sporting Goods, Sunkist Growers, Bank of America, Choice Hotels and Snickers. Others supporting this year's Jamboree are: Baseball Factory and the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation.