As 93 percent of Canadian children ages 5-11 fail to meet physical activity guidelines, according to Active Healthy Kids Canada, 2014, programs such as Rookie League take on more and more importance, especially throughout periods with extended breaks from school supervision.
To start the Rookie League in Toronto season -- a program offered for children with limited access to summer programming, and at no cost to participants' families -- Rookie Leaguers received Blue Jays Baseball Academy T-shirts, hats and water bottles, as well as LUG backpacks, Alomar Silver Series baseball gloves and Rawlings baseball equipment. Rookie League staff -- the vast majority of whom are from Toronto Community Housing neighborhoods -- are provided with training from the Blue Jays, including a coaching clinic and an online resource.
"I hope you have an awesome time this summer," Jays Care Foundation executive director Danielle Bedasse told 2014 Rookie League in Toronto participants, who enjoyed a day of baseball drills, a barbecue lunch and an opportunity to enjoy the Blue Jays inflatables.
"You're going to learn how to play baseball, but more importantly, you're going to make some lifelong friends, and you're going to be a team when you finish this experience."
"On behalf of Toronto Community Housing, I want to thank everyone who came out today," said Greg Spearn, interim president and CEO/chief development officer of Toronto Community Housing.
"I want to thank Jays Care Foundation and the Toronto Blue Jays for taking such a leadership role in this program, and we, as Toronto Community Housing, are delighted to be part of it, as well."
On Aug. 9, Rookie League teams from across Toronto will gather at Rogers Centre, where they will enjoy dinner at the ballpark and tickets to the Blue Jays game. Later in the month, they will meet again, this time at the University of Toronto Scarborough, where Rookie League Wrap-Up day will see participants receive awards and backpacks containing school supplies for the upcoming school year.
"This program started 26 years ago, with a few dozen kids, and lasted for one afternoon," said Bedasse. "This program has grown into itself within the past 26 years, and we are so thrilled to continue this important legacy project throughout our home. Rookie League is about more than baseball -- it is about providing Canadian children with safe and meaningful programming at critical periods, and ensuring their continued success upon completion of the season."
For more information on the Rookie League program, or to donate, visit: http://toronto.bluejays.mlb.com/tor/community/rookie_league.jsp