Dear Friends and Families of L.E.A.D.,
As the country begins to recover from the pandemic, our state and local authorities have released guidance that allows youth sport leagues to resume activities. We are excited about the prospect of bringing baseball back to our youth, families, and communities. However, we also firmly believe it’s important to maintain incredibly high standards for safety and health during this tenuous time of reopening our society.
Because the state of our Black boys and communities depends on us to provide the best opportunities for our youth to be successful, for L.E.A.D., it is no longer a question of if we can reopen but when. Our ability to get #Back2Play and fundraising for our everyday mission – empowering Black boys to overcome crime, poverty and racism through the sport of baseball – means we get back to helping our youth combat the obstacles and pitfalls they face as we instill our core values of excellence, humility, integrity, loyalty, stewardship and teamwork into their moral compass. We are here to empower an at-risk generation of youth to lead and pave ways for future generations.
As such, we have restarted our Ambassador Program with our #Back2Play initiative, but under strict guidelines outlined by the CDC and The City Of Atlanta. We understand your fears and concerns about COVID-19 and the current state of racial civil unrest, and we are implementing modifications to safely get our Ambassadors back into a routine of engaging in our frequent, positive, proven programming.
Given the low contact nature of our sport, we truly believe we can modify our activities in a manner that is both safe and maintains the integrity of our game play. We also have new operating protocols to ensure our facilities, people, and processes are maximizing the safety of everyone involved in L.E.A.D.’s #Back2Play experience.
We have trained our coaches on our new modified play rules and protocols and we maintain an open line of communication with our parents. While we recognize that some of our supporters and families will face a difficult decision when it comes to L.E.A.D. returning to play this season. We respect each individual decision and remind you of our purpose. When we started L.E.A.D. in 2007, it was in response to the rhetoric of “Black boys don’t play baseball.” We knew better, and so we set out to prove the naysayers wrong. As our inaugural season came to a close and we learned about the uneven playing field that exists for Black boys in the education system, in addition to the baseball diamond, we began to see baseball as a social justice resource.
From the beginning, we immersed our youth, who we call Ambassadors, into civic engagement activities that taught them about their ancestors and the truth about the beautiful and tragic journey of being Black in America. Whether it was attending National Black Arts Festival events where they could admire the creativity of their people or visiting the Center For Civil & Human Rights so that they could understand the power, influence and tenacity of their people, our Ambassadors have always been immersed in an environment where they are uplifted and empowered.
LEAD has been on the front lines for Black boys in Atlanta for over thirteen years using baseball to help our youth overcome crime, poverty and racism. Our position has not and will not change. Black lives have always mattered to us, as well as to the many stakeholders who support us. Getting Back2Play is about saving our boys’ lives by providing them with a positive, proven, empowering and safe environment to learn, grow and play. Want to get in the game with us? Text Back2Play to 41411 to learn how.
Thank you again for your support of L.E.A.D. and our Ambassadors. These are extraordinary times and we believe strongly that youth baseball can help us in our recovery. However, it has to be done safely, with the utmost care for the health of our youth and our communities. Let’s get #Back2Play!
Kelli Stewart, Co-founder/COO