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Mets legend inspires Citi Field Kids

Never give up what you believe in and always keep trying, was the lesson Kean Jennings, 11, from P.S. 150, took home with him after the Citi Field Kids Program; a youth organization focused on making positive impacts on their communities.
Approximately 200 enthusiastic students 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, July 23. As part of the Citi Field Kids Program, three of New York’s 38 settlement houses, The Northern Manhattan Improvement Corp.; Sunnyside Community Services and University Settlement/East Side Community High, enjoyed taking a tour of the rotunda and a program hosted by SNY anchor Michelle Yu.
Yu shared a story with those in attendance regarding her uphill battle to fulfill her dream as a sports broadcaster.
“When everyone said that I couldn’t do it because I was Asian or because I was a girl, I knew I had to prove them wrong and I became the first Asian female sportscaster in this city’s history,” said Yu, met by a round of applause. “I love being a part of the Citi Kids Program because I feel like I can relate to them. They are inner city kids and minorities, so I know that it can be an uphill battle for them.”
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.
Among the day’s guest speakers was the youngest deputy mayor in the city’s history, Edward Skyler, who spoke about the importance of the opportunities that come with being involved in government.
“Don’t pay too much attention to those that misbehave,” said Skyler, referring to government officials that abuse their power. “Getting involved in government is a great way to give back to the people.”
After Jackie Robinson Scholarship Award winners Omar Davies, Simone Williams, Teddy Hatwith and Brian Lopez spoke about how Jackie Robinson, the first black Major League Baseball player and significant contributor to the civil rights movement in America, has inspired them to achieve at a high level, John Franco, fourth on the all-time saves list, spoke about his story that began in the projects of Brooklyn.
“Scouts that saw me play at Lafayette High School told me that I was too small to play professional baseball,” said Franco. “So, I used that as motivation. It motivated me to go on to St. John’s University where I can get an education and prove them wrong.”
The rest is history. Franco pitched two no-hitters his freshman year at St. John’s and scouts began to take a closer look. He was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1981.
“Don’t let anyone ever tell you that you can’t do something. If you put your mind, your heart, your soul and are committed to do what you want to do, do it. It’s all about hard work.”
After the program, the Citi Field Kids attendees were treated to an afternoon of Mets baseball, where after a two-hour rain delay , they defeated the Oakland A’s, 4-1, on the back of a strong outing by lefty Chris Capuano.

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