The Breaking Barriers essay contest encourages students from across the country to write about how they are facing or were able to overcome personal obstacles or barriers in their own lives through the example set forth by Robinson. The program focuses on nine values: Courage, Teamwork, Determination, Persistence, Integrity, Citizenship, Justice, Commitment and Excellence. Teachers can submit their students' essays for consideration for national recognition by Major League Baseball, Scholastic and Sharon Robinson. The deadline for submitting essays is Tuesday, March 14, 2017.
Sharon Robinson said: "We are so proud to offer the first bilingual option for Breaking Barriers, which will open up our program to even more children. Scholastic has been a tremendous partner in reaching educators and we thank all the teachers and parents who have been supportive in our collective effort. It is a privilege to share my father's story with students, especially those who see similarities between his experience and their own personal barriers. Our hope is that Breaking Barriers will continue to reach thousands of young people who are seeking inspiration as they discover their own inner strength to overcome what seem like insurmountable obstacles."
Over the last four years, Breaking Barriers has averaged more than 17,000 essay submissions annually for consideration for a three-tiered prize system. In 2017, ten winners will be recognized, including the two Grand Prize winners, two MVP winners and six All-Star Prize winners split evenly between the two separate grade groups (Grades 4-6 & Grades 7-9). Each of the ten prize winners will receive a laptop computer and prizes for their class, including Breaking Barriers T-shirts and books written by Sharon Robinson. The four Grand Prize and MVP Prize winners will each receive a personal classroom visit from Robinson, and their teachers also will receive a laptop.
Since its inception in 1997, Breaking Barriers: In Sports, In Life has reached more than 31 million youth and 4.2 million educators in the continental United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Breaking Barriers has also been utilized by Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) as part of the character development and educational focuses of both youth-oriented organizations.
"Every year, the essays we receive remind us of how resilient students can be and how, when utilizing personal values like Jackie's, we can truly overcome the most incredible challenges," said Ann Amstutz Hayes, Senior Vice President at Scholastic. "We are proud that Breaking Barriers is a program teachers turn to every year to provide students with a creative platform to express themselves and to share their incredible stories."
Sharon Robinson is the author of several widely-praised nonfiction books and novels for children. In her 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.