MLB teaming up to help kids 'Play Healthy'

MLB teaming up to help kids 'Play Healthy'

From Texas to Target Field, the league-wide focus has been to "Play Healthy."

At Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, the decision to team with The Partnership at Drugfree.org was a natural one for southpaw C.J. Wilson. The seven-year big leaguer made a choice early in life to not use drugs or alcohol, putting him in sync with the philosophy of an initiative called Play Healthy -- the brainchild of The Partnership at Drugfree.org and Major League Baseball Charities.

Play Healthy emphasizes the importance of a drug-free lifestyle and healthy competition amongst youths.

"Being a positive role model in the community is a big inspiration for my success on the field," Wilson said. "Together with The Partnership at Drugfree.org, I can help kids feel the empowerment and positive support that I carry every day towards my goals in baseball and in life."

In Minnesota, Patty Sterner was on hand before a game against the Red Sox at Target Field earlier this month, alongside her three children and mother. An educator and track coach, Patty lost her stepdaughter, Amanda, to alcohol poisoning on her 21st birthday.

Patty has dedicated herself to educating teens and parents on the risks and consequences of drug and alcohol use, in part through a "Think. Don't Drink." campaign she organized in her school. For her efforts, Patty last year was selected by a panel of parents, employees and other industry professionals as one of two recipients of the first annual Commissioner's Play Healthy Awards.

Loureen Prudente, a teen athlete from Michigan who's committed to a pledge program, was also honored alongside Patty in an awards gala last December in New York.

"Their remarkable efforts to promote healthy and safe participation in sports will inspire coaches and players around the country to follow their example," Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig said of the recipients. "Our long-standing relationship with The Partnership at Drugfree.org continues to spread the important message of drug-free competition and highlight the outstanding work of people like Coach Sterner and Loureen."

Now, as the end of the 2011 regular season approaches, there's more than one way to continue to promote the message that Wilson, Sterner, Prudente and Play Healthy stand for.

Play Healthy has composed a presentation -- available online at playhealthy.drugfree.org -- that helps empower any member of the community to help kids avoid substance abuse. From parents to coaches, athletics directors and law enforcement, the information was packaged to make an impact.

The Sept. 16 deadline for the second annual Commissioner's Play Healthy Awards is also quickly approaching, and nominations may be submitted online until that day at the same website.

Nominees for the student-athlete award must between the ages of 13 and 18, and nominees for the youth coach award must coach teams of students who are between the ages of 13 to 18. All nominations must be made by someone other than the person being nominated, and winners are to be announced on Oct. 18.

"We've learned the vital role played by youth coaches and exemplary student athletes in promoting healthy sports play in their schools and communities," said Steve Pasierb, president of The Partnership at Drugfree.org. "MLB has been an outstanding, tireless partner in our educational programs and it's an honor to partner again this year to recognize and reward those people who help change the lives of others. The Commissioner's Play Healthy Award is just one of the many ways MLB and The Partnership at Drugfree.org work together to educate teens and families about the risks of steroids and performance-enhancing substances, as well as the value of healthy competition."

Evan Drellich is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @EvanDrellich. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.