Jackie Robinson once said, “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.” That same spirit is true for the Citi Field Kids Program, a youth organization committed to making a positive impact on their communities.
Over 200 enthusiastic teenagers filed into the Jackie Robinson Rotunda at Citi Field – home to the Mets Hall of Fame and Museum – ready for a morning brimming with inspiration and an afternoon of Mets baseball on Thursday, August 12. As part of the Citi Field Kids Program, four of New York’s 38 settlement houses – Henry Street Settlement, Chinese-American Planning Council, Goddard Riverside Community Center, Center for Family Life in Sunset Park – enjoyed taking a tour of the rotunda and a program hosted by SNY anchor Michelle Yu.
“I love being a part of the Citi Kids Program because I feel like I can relate to these teenagers,” said Yu, who shared her story about getting involved with sports journalism against all odds. “They are inner city kids and minorities, so I know that it can be an uphill battle for teenagers like them. Whatever they want to do – they can do it. It sounds cheesy or cliché but it’s true.”
The Citi Field Kids Program – which was launched in April of 2009 – is an educational and motivational community¬-based initiative for New York City school students in collaboration with the Jackie Robinson Foundation, United Neighborhood Houses (UNH) and the New York Mets. The program has sought to positively impact middle and high school students through the nine values Jackie Robinson embodied: courage, integrity, determination, persistence, citizenship, justice, commitment, teamwork and excellence.
“To get to see different energy levels, background and personalities is always a breath of fresh air,” said Jeffery Moss, one of seven Jackie Robinson Foundation scholars who spoke briefly and gave tours of the rotunda.
Guest speaker Jeremy Schaap – author and Emmy award winning journalist for ESPN – also used Jackie Robinson as a prime example for what it takes to become a success.
“We are all fortunate to be living in a society in which regardless of race, religion and ethnicity, you can accomplish whatever you want to if you are willing to work hard enough,” said Schaap.
Youth advocates for UNH’s campaign for summer jobs, Natalie Colon and Tamika Cruz who spent their summer lobbying for funds in Albany and Washington D.C. enjoyed a comfortable day off with their teenage peers, enjoying endless amounts of snacks, chicken fingers and other munchies in their very own Citi Field suite while watching the Mets take on the Colorado Rockies in second game of a three game series.
“It’s fun to be in this type of environment,” said Colon.
After a 4-0 shutout victory for the Mets behind the tremendous efforts of Johan Santana, the field belonged to the young and old of New York. Hundreds of seniors and their families walked the bases of the Mets home ballpark and got a chance to stand in the batter’s box. For 88-year-old Joe Flitch, it was the moment of a life-time.
“He hasn’t been to a game since 1940,” said nephew Dan Burton.