Although there are a few sponsored baseball programs for youth on the West Side, this is the first time the Austin community will have official Little League International (LLI) teams.
This is a huge step for local youth sports and a great opportunity, says Thomas Bowling and Jonathan Currie.
Little League is one of the largest internationally sanctioned youth baseball programs in the world, with nearly 200,000 teams in all 50 states and more than 80 countries. Youth participating in Little League baseball may have the opportunity to take part in the international tournament.
Austin and other West Side neighborhoods have historically suffered a lack of opportunities and resources, which makes the new partnership with LLI especially beneficial to the struggling community. The goal of the Little League program is developing the qualities of citizenship, discipline, teamwork and physical well-being, espousing the virtues of character, courage and loyalty.
Considering that research has proven that crime spikes between the hours of 3 and 6 p.m. and the ongoing issue of violence in the Austin community, this is a significant development for the West Side. Little League offers recreation and fitness to a large population of youth who have few options for productive after-school and weekend activities.
Austin Safety Net Works is a coalition of community groups with a mission to prevent violence in Austin by engaging youth in promoting positive norms and values in the community. Funded by the Illinois Department of Human Services, Austin Safety Net Works provides job opportunities, social-recreational activities and peace education through a network of local organizations.
Bringing Little League to Austin is one of ASNW’s strategies to provide positive activities to youth who have few available outlets.
Austin Little League program is open to girls and boys ages 4 to 18. Anyone interested in registering to be on a team or volunteering (as coaches, board members, officials, etc.) should contact Thomas Bowling or Jonathan Currie at (773) 378-5034. Click here for more information.