1,700 youth from 60 Toronto Community Housing neighbourhoods celebrated the finale of the 2014 Rookie League season at the University of Toronto Scarborough Athletics Field on Thursday, August 14th.
Rookie Leaguers excited for the awards ceremony on closing day.
Rookie League baseball camp, made possible through a partnership between Toronto Community Housing and Jays Care Foundation, is a safe, fun, active and engaging summer-long day camp for youth ages 6-13. Youth are taught life lessons about teamwork, leadership and fair play to use both on and off the field.
Rookie League is helping to develop young leaders in our city by employing 180 youth (ages 15+), most of whom are residents, as coaches through the Rookie League Youth Champions program.
"It's been a great season", said Lenna Bradburn, Vice President, Resident and Community Services, Toronto Community Housing. It's great to see how we can work with our partners to have a program that makes such positive change in our communities. Rookie League is about making new friends, taking a leadership role in your community and most of all having fun."
From left to right: Toronto Community Housing staff Anne McGregor, Resident Access and Support, and Stayce Grant, Community Services Coordinator, pose with two Rookie Leaguers.
Rookie League has grown throughout the years. Last year alone, Toronto Community Housing provided youth with:
- 9,800 each of granola bars, hot dogs and juice boxes
- 140 watermelons
Cayden, an 11-year-old resident of the Kipling and Albion community, in his first year participating in the program, said that he's excited to come back again next year. "I really liked this camp. I like that we learned a lot. All the drills help us and really teach us about baseball," he said. "Meeting new friends and learning about Rookie League was really fun."
"One of the goals of the Blue Jays Baseball Academy Rookie League is to use the power of sport to teach important life skills which are transferable on and off the field," said Brendan Mohammed, Jays Care Foundation Programs & Outreach Manager. "Our participants are learning leadership, sportsmanship and discipline and doing it by having fun on the field. It is very encouraging to see so many of our Rookie League alumni use the skill sets they learned through the program and return as staff in their communities."
Coaches of the Year and Teamwork & Sportsmanship awardees group together for a photo.
Over the course of the season, youth enjoyed six weeks of baseball programming in various parks across the city including Stan Wadlow Park, and in their communities.
On closing day, Rookie Leaguers came together and took part in a baseball carnival, followed by a presentation of the Victor Cameron MVP awards given to youth who demonstrated exceptional sportsmanship on their teams. After a hot dog lunch, youth were then presented with two types of awards for their commitment to sport: Coaches of the Year awards and Teamwork & Sportsmanship awards.
Victor Cameron MVP awardees cheer to the end of a great season.
With the success of past seasons, Rookie Leaguers, mentors and Toronto Community Housing staff alike continue to see the importance of programs like Rookie League and their positive impact on the lives of youth and their communities.
Stayce Grant wants youth to take away togetherness and leadership from the program. "In Rookie League we teach young people how to be leaders," she said. "Programs like this give them an outlet to be themselves and to be involved in their community through different ways and not just through baseball. As they continue to grow and remember experiences like this that are positive, they are going to want to give back and do positive things for the next generation of young people that follow after them."
"They become staff, they become mentors and they become leaders. That's what you want this program to accomplish at end of the day," Stayce added.
As the 26th season of Rookie League came to its last swing, future seasons are sure to continue to bring our youth and communities together through the love of baseball.
For more information on Rookie League or how to register for the 2015 season, please see the Rookie League page on our website.