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Filling the need for local kids

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Healthy Kidz forms baseball/softball to help build youth interest

By Harry M. Anderson, Jr.
Special to the Michigan Citizen

Like many children of the inner cities, Detroit’s kids weren’t being exposed to the games of baseball and softball. The result was a lack of interest in the pastime sport that many Blacks fought to integrate.

Maria Adams-Lawton, executive director of Healthy Kidz, Inc., took it upon herself to form the Healthy Kidz Baseball/Softball League and help form the sports in the Michigan Metro Conference.

The organization used to sponsor flag football during this time, but Adams felt there was a need to fill the void for baseball and softball, which are a big absence in the city’s schools.

“After 15 seasons, there will be no flag football because we wanted to focus on baseball for boys and softball for girls,” she said. “Most kids are interested in basketball and football.

“The reason Healthy Kidz started baseball and softball in our schools is because it seems that these two sports are dying out in our schools and amongst our kids. There aren’t many kids going into college baseball and softball or the major leagues from Detroit.”

Twenty schools, eight high schools and 12 Detroit middle schools are involved in the Healthy Kidz baseball/softball program, which involves about 250 kids.

The high schools involved are part of the Michigan Metro Conference: River Rouge, Ecorse, Willow Run, Detroit Consortium Prep, Detroit Community High, Trillium Academy, Detroit Henry Ford Center for Creative Studies and the University Prep for Science/Math.

The Detroit middle schools involved are Bates Academy, Pasteur, Bagley, Marshall, Marcus Garvey, Bow, Earhart, Paul Robeson, Schulze, Palmer Park and Friends School.

The high schools play their games at LeRoy Dues Park, located by the old Miller High School site, while the middle schools play at Palmer Park on Detroit’s northwest side.

“The middle school league is important because when the kids get to high school, it’s really too late,” Adams said.

“After they play here, most of them will go on to their neighborhood high schools. They will also be able to play in summer leagues sponsored by the Legends League and the Detroit Recreation Department.

“Through clinics and tournaments, the baseball and softball coaches from the Detroit Public Schools will have the opportunity to meet and see potential players from our league. We will get more teams and schools involved next season. Spring 2014 will be stronger than ever.”

The Healthy Kidz baseball/softball program, which completed its first season this past spring, receives support from Wayne County, City of Detroit, Detroit Public Schools, Detroit Parks and Recreation, and Courageous Inc.

Adams will gladly accept donations and support from interested parties.

Those interested in starting a team for next season or who want to give financial support can contact Adams at 313.995.0607, send a fax to 313.567.4540 or mail Healthy Kidz, Inc., P.O. Box 38565, Detroit, Mich., 48238.

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