Youth sports can be time consuming and expensive but a local nonprofit is working to remove barriers that keep kids from playing.

They're creating a summer league for children in underserved communities and it is free to participate.

“There's nothing like getting your first hit and a lot of these kids have never played baseball before,” said Southside Youth Development volunteer coach Drew Barton.

Barton played baseball in college and knows firsthand how the sport can change a child's life.

“We saw how much baseball helped us grow as individuals with character development but also how to deal with failure, how to work as a team and so we thought that would be a good lesson, something for them to be able to learn in that community so we decided to give them opportunity,” Barton told Local 3 News.

Southside Youth Development is a nonprofit that is working to help kids from underserved communities through sports and character development.

Last year, with the help of community donors, they were able to transform a piece of land at Emma Wheeler Homes into a baseball field.

"There's not much to do around there and so it gives them something productive to really invest time in,” said Barton.

With the field being so close to home, it allows children access to play in their own backyard and they don't have to pay a penny.

Last year, 55 kids, ages five to 14, participated in the summer league. This summer, they're hoping more players will join them.

Barton, who is also a volunteer Howard High School baseball coach, is trying to get the word out so more kids will show up and learn to play.

“Everything that's done at Southside Youth and at Howard High is so much more than baseball. It's about growing as individuals, growing as people but also growing together,” said Barton.

May 21st is a work day for volunteers to get the field ready for the season.

A free baseball clinic will take place on May 28th at Howard High School.

The first practice for kids is May 31st.

The group is looking for volunteers to help coach, work on the field and provide meals for the kids.

To learn more or to get involved, contact organizers on the Southside Youth Development's Facebook page.


Lori Mitchell joined Local 3 News in February 2017 and co-anchors our morning newscasts on weekday mornings. Lori reports on inspiring stories in her weekly "Making a Difference" segment, featuring people who are making a positive impact in the community.

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