Cornerstones and Baseball
Friday, July 17, 2015
Cornerstones is thrilled to be working with Don Mattingly and the Mattingly Foundation as we expand opportunities for youth in our programs to participate in organized sports, build skills and confidence in their abilities as well as learning what it is to be part of a team.
Cornerstones has worked in the greater Reston-Herndon area of Fairfax County for 45 years, providing support and advocacy for people in need of emergency shelter, affordable housing, affordable childcare and other community services. Our programs offer real solutions to permanently lift families out of poverty. We address the needs of parents in finding safe and stable housing, building skills to earn a living wage, and become economically independent and care for their families.
For children and youth, our programs ensure children are safe, enter school healthy and ready to learn, and that we support them throughout their development to adulthood with programs designed to bolster their resiliency, expose them to new experiences, and support their success in imagining a future that is different than what they have known. We do this through structured academic, recreational and cultural programs in eight neighborhoods and community centers and at Laurel Learning Center, a child development center for 135 kids, ages birth through 12 years old. These programs are based in neighborhoods or housing developments with a very high percentage of extremely low and low-income families, and in school districts with the high percentages (50-77%) free and reduced price lunch eligibility.
Youth Recreational and Skills-Building Programs:
Reston and Fairfax County are fortunate in the large number and variety of recreational, educational and cultural programs available to residents. Unfortunately, youth and families living in poverty or those whose families are isolated by language or cultural barriers, transportation access or physical or mental disability often do not benefit from these opportunities.
Cornerstones works to overcome those barriers by creating opportunities in our neighborhood centers by introducing children and youth to a wide variety of experiences. We have tutoring and academic enrichment programs, Robotics, Girls on the Run, Computer Learning Centers and many activities driven by youth interest and willingness to volunteer.
Many of the youth we work with have not participated in regular, organized youth sports or programs. Poor nutrition and exercise habits, concerns about pre-diabetes and obesity are growing problems among those we serve. Our food and nutrition programs, including community gardens and cooking classes for adults and youth are a start, but we’ve also increased our work in getting kids active and interested through recreational activities that are based in the neighborhoods.
One recent initiative was a partnership with the Reston Y, Reston Association and Reston Community Center, founders of the Reston Kids Triathlon. From the beginning these partners worked with Cornerstones to ensure that we could introduce this sport to disadvantaged youth. They held slots and provided free or reduced registration and got donations of bikes and helmets for those who wanted to participate. Supported by our youth organizers and volunteer trainers more than 70 youth have now participated in the Reston Kids Tri since its founding 3 years ago. These are youth ages 5 and up with no previous experience, who not only learned to ride a bike, master a basic freestyle swim and build endurance in running, had the courage to compete and finish a race. After the Triathlon our youth participants were surprised with the gift of taking home their bikes, and many now participate in year-round training through Laurel Learning Center and our other center activities. More than that, they went home with new confidence and skills that will benefit them for a lifetime.
The Mattingly Foundation investment in baseball equipment will enable us to introduce youth in our programs to a sport that frankly fewer have experienced, in part because of cultural and/or financial barriers, or the ability of their parents or caregivers to get them to weekly practices and games since they are working sometimes 2 and 3 jobs.
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