MLB, Scholastic announce winners of 2016 "Breaking Barriers" essay contest

Grand Prize winners Kendal Young, Sadie Chamberlain will be recognized at All-Star Game, World Series

Major League Baseball and Scholastic today announced that Kendal Young, a 5th-grade student from Spring Lake, Michigan, and Sadie Chamberlain, an 8th-grade student from West Burke, Vermont, were selected as Grand Prize winners of the 2016 Breaking Barriers: In Sports, In Life Essay Contest, which garnered more than 17,000 essays from students around the United States and Canada. This year marks the 20th anniversary of Breaking Barriers -- the educational program led by Sharon Robinson, daughter of Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson. The Breaking Barriers educational program is designed to teach students in grades four through nine about the obstacles faced by Jackie Robinson as he broke baseball's color barrier in 1947. 

The program culminates with students writing essays that illustrate how they were able to overcome obstacles or barriers in their own lives through the example set forth by Robinson, focusing on nine values he demonstrated: citizenship, commitment, courage, determination, excellence, integrity, justice, persistence, and teamwork. Educators can learn more about the program and access free Breaking Barriers program materials at

Kendal wrote an essay about living as one of the few African-Americans in her community. In Sadie's essay, she describes overcoming stereotypes related to her having cerebral palsy. Sharon Robinson, MLB Educational Programming Consultant and author, will join Kendal and Sadie when they are recognized at the 87th MLB All-Star Game at Petco Park in San Diego and the 2016 World Series, respectively. Kendal and Sadie lead the pack of twenty Breaking Barriers national essay winners this year-an expanded number in celebration of the program's 20th anniversary in 2016. 

2016 Breaking Barriers national winners include: 

Grand Prize Winners 

Kendal Young, Grade 5, Spring Lake, MI

Sadie Chamberlain, Grade 8, West Burke, VT 

MVP Prize Winners

Renah Kozemchak, Grade 6, Ruffsdale, PA

Precious Rodriguez, Grade 8, Fontana, CA 

All-Star Prize Winners

Miranda Anderson, Grade 5, West Palm Beach, FL

Mary Athorp, Grade 5, Howards Grove, WI

Matthew Boutros, Grade 7, Toledo, OH

Nathan Chan, Grade 6, Omaha, NE

Daniel Danko, Grade 5, Port Jervis, NY

Meghan Farley, Grade 6, Chicago, IL

Sonakshi Garr, Grade 8, Wauconda, IL

Tatyana-Marie Gervais, Grade 8, Hoosick Falls, NY

Jake Harper, Grade 6, Glendale, CA

Suraiya Hossain, Grade 8, Bridgeport, CT

Calyn Jones, Grade 6, Ruffsdale, PA

Senia Manson, Grade 7, Houghton, MI

Isabel Martinez, Grade 5, Round Lake, IL

Shelby McLaurin, Grade 8, Palestine, TX

Jameson Pope, Grade 7, Quincy, MA

Analyee Trevillyan, Grade 8, Mesa, AZ 

All twenty prize winners will receive a laptop computer and Breaking Barriers t-shirts and books written by Sharon Robinson for their class. The four Grand Prize and MVP Prize winners will each receive a personal classroom visit from Robinson, as well, and their teachers will each receive a new laptop. 

Breaking Barriers was developed by MLB, Sharon Robinson and Scholastic, the global children's publishing, education and media company. The program is generously supported by Church & Dwight Co., Inc., maker of ARM & HAMMER™ and OxiClean™ products and a proud sponsor of Major League Baseball. Church & Dwight is making an annual donation of $150,000 to the Breaking Barriers program through 2016. Since its inception in 1997, Breaking Barriers: In Sports, In Life has reached more than 27 million children and 3.6 million educators in the continental United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. 

"Major League Baseball is delighted to name these outstanding young students as winners in this 20th anniversary of the Breaking Barriers program," said Tom Brasuell, Vice President of Community Affairs, Major League Baseball. "A significant and lasting component of Jackie's legacy is the importance of education. These twenty young men and women, and all Breaking Barriers winners before them, stand as an outstanding representation of the Robinson family's commitment to changing lives through education." 

"It has been an incredible honor to recognize these wonderful young writers," said Sharon Robinson. "By sharing their personal struggles with us, they've shown tremendous courage. I am also deeply grateful for my mother's support of the Breaking Barriers program and to have spent 20 amazing years working with MLB, Scholastic, Church & Dwight, our clubs and MLB players."

Sharon Robinson is the author of several widely-praised nonfiction books and novels for children. In her newest novel, The Hero Two Doors Down (Scholastic; February 2016), she tells the story of Steven Satlow, a young Dodgers fan in the 1940s, who befriended the great Jackie Robinson after his family moved to Satlow's all-Jewish neighborhood. 

For more information on Breaking Barriers: In Sports, In Life, please visit