The Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation shines the program spotlight on Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) of West Central Ohio. Executive Director, John Neville, shares their story:
Badges for Baseball program:
Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) of West Central Ohio’s school-based mentoring programs have been in place since the Fall of 2000, but a year ago those programs were enhanced with the introduction of Badges for Baseball at the Lima South Science-Technology Magnet, an inner-city K-8 school.
The initial plan was to offer the program to children in the BBBS mentoring program but as plans moved forward the decision was made to offer it to all fifth and sixth graders at Lima South, separate and apart from the mentoring program. Four groups of students have participated in the past year. In addition, two special education classes in grades 5-8 have participated. By the end of the year, over 100 kids will have completed Badges for Baseball.
John often attends the sessions and acts as a pitcher for Quickball. He says, “This program has been a winner for our kids from the first day. The kids enjoy it, the officers enjoy it, and I enjoy it.”
BBBS partners with the Lima Police Department (LPD), whose officers teach the Healthy Choices, Healthy Children curriculum and participate in Quickball afterward. One of Lima’s officers believes that Badges for Baseball is the best kid-focused program the LPD has been involved with. Earlier this year, LPD Chief Kevin Martin pointed out some of the advantages to the community.
“I think it is a good way to teach the kids that the police are their friends and they shouldn’t be afraid of them,” Martin said. “Too many times when a kid is in trouble, they think the police are out to get them and they run away. When kids are in trouble, we want them to run to the police.”
Lima South Principal Tricia Winkler also praised the program. “I have seen students come out of their shells, they are answering questions, they are building relationships with police officers and it is a very positive program in the schools,” Winkler said.
In addition to sessions at the school, three students accompanied BBBS’s Kay Black to Aberdeen, Maryland, for a week of CRSF summer camp. Other children who participate in a BBBS program for court-involved kids recently spent a day at the University of Dayton, where they toured the campus, learned about what it takes to get into college, interacted with kids from other parts of the state, and attended a Dayton football game.
“It is all good,” Neville said. “We are honored to be chosen to participate in Badges for Baseball and believe it can make a lasting difference in Lima.”
We want to thank John and BBBS of West Central Ohio for being such a great partner of the Badges for Baseball program. Keep up the good work!