Learn how a local baseball stand-out uses his gifts to mentor youth on the south side of Chicago.
You do not have to be a professional athlete to harness the power of sport for good. Take it from LaVonte Stewart, founder of Lost Boyz, a youth baseball league on Chicago’s south side. Stewart grew up playing baseball and eventually earned a scholarship to play in college. Unfortunately, after graduation, he was pulled into a life of crime and found himself in prison. Stewart recognized that he needed to change his life, and in the process, help those around him. He went back to graduate school at DePaul University and established Lost Boyz as a way to reach local boys that may be susceptible to the violence and crime that plagues the city.
Lost Boyz is predicated on sports-based developmental theory and asserts that involvement in sports gives youth a chance to connect with others, develop character skills, and utilize those skills in positive ways. It is not your typical baseball league. Each participant is given an initial life skills assessment so coaches and mentors can determine areas in need of improvement. The league reinforces social skills, offers educational support, and teaches economic trades to young people.
Lost Boyz is a shining example of how research-based approaches to social change are often the most successful. Stewart could have simply started a league and hoped the players find meaning in belonging to a team. Yet, he decided to build his organization using a more mindful, academic strategy. He grew the organization steadily and with intention. He crafted a mentorship program that makes sense for his participants and their daily realities. He partners with established brands and local college teams. Every move is calculated and specific to his target audience. And it is working. Lost Boyz participants are ageing out of the program, being accepted to high school, and playing competitive baseball. Some are even garnering attention from college recruiters. The league continues to grow each year and with it, the number of lives impacted.
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