According to the Mesa, Arizona state website, Mesa, located in Maricopa County, is the third largest city in Arizona and the nation’s 38th-largest city. The City provides the advantages of a thriving metropolis while maintaining the feel of a suburban environment. Just 15 miles east of Phoenix, Mesa covers 132 square miles. In spite of the positive environment and access to some out-of-school-time programs, local children and youth can still get into trouble when they’re not in school, or in an adult-supervised activity. After-school hours are a critical time for youth, as they can either get into trouble, or use the time as an opportunity to learn and grow, through quality after-school programs. It is well known that after-school hours are the peak time for juvenile crime and risky behaviorssuch as alcohol and drug use – and it is just as well-known that after-school programs offer a healthy and positive alternative. Such programs endeavor to maintain the safety of its participants; improve their academic performance; and help relieve the stresses on today’s working families. They can serve as important youth violence prevention and intervention strategies while there are many out-of-school-time programs in the Mesa, AZ area, many of them are for young children, or offer computer classes, or craft-work. While these programs have their place, they are not for everyone. Additionally, many local youth do not have access to after-school programs. In fact, according to safeyouth.org, “Every day, at least eight million children and youth are left alone and unsupervised once the school bell rings. While nine in 10 Americans think that all youth should have access to after-school programs, two-thirds say it is difficult to find programs locally. With more and more children growing up in homes with two working parents or a single working parent, today's families can benefit from the safe, structured learning opportunities that after-school program provide.” Research found by safeyouth.org shows us that: “Other safety issues surface in the after-school hours as well. Students who spend no time in extracurricular activities, such as those offered in after-school programs, are 49 percent more likely to have used drugs and 37 percent more likely to become teen parents than are those students who spend one to four hours per week in extracurricular activities. (Please see graph below) “Beyond serving a significant role by simply offering youth a safe haven, after-school programs offer children and youth opportunities to learn new skills such as conflict resolution, prepare for a successful career, improve grades and develop relationships with caring adults. These skills can be critical in helping youth develop in positive ways and to avoid behavior problems and conflict.”(Ibid)The link between after-school program participation and violence prevention and increased achievement among youth is increasingly evident as new research emerges. After-School Programs: Keeping Children Safe and Smart, a joint report from the U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Justice, shows that students in after-school programs exhibit fewer behavioral problems, better ability to handle conflicts and improved self-confidence.” and” Despite the tendency to think of older children as able to take care of themselves, studies show that after-school programs benefit youth at all levels, from elementary to high school. In fact, middle and high school students may often benefit most from these programs. A recent survey of high school students, for example, revealed that students in after-school programs had greater expectations for the future and were more interested in school than their peers.” (Ibid)Grinders Sports was established to provide local at-risk children and youths, from the age of 8 to18 years, who may not have the opportunity, ability, financial or other means to participate in athletic activities, with an opportunity to participate in an out-of-school-time athletic program activity. Through this program, we will offer our participants the benefits of adult-supervised baseball program by participating in local leagues, state and nationwide tournaments. Under the guidance of professional athletes, who will instruct the participants, it is anticipated this program will facilitate the positive development of local children and youth, aged 8 to 18years, by teaching them how to excel at sports. As a result of their participation in organization programs, we anticipate our children and youth will develop life-long skills, including, but not limited to, proper time management, the value of sportsmanship, leadership skills, and how to work as a team. While each “athletic” program (that is baseball, basketball and football) are normally seasonal, the difference when living in Arizona is that most sports are played year ‘round, except for the really hot months of July and August. The benefits to participants are that this allows them to take part in these outdoor activities for at least 10 out of 12 months per year, in paramount conditions and under adult-supervision.
Students interested in the program must submit an application request for participation, which will include approval by their parent(s)/guardian. The primary requirement for participation is that the potential client be considered at-risk (academically and/or characteristically) and have a desire to learn their chosen sports activity. Each program will then conduct “try-outs” to select individuals and ascertain placement of each on their perspective team. Once approved, we will discuss the objectives of our program with the participant and their parents. To participate, both participants and parents will be expected to follow a strict “Code of Conduct”, which will be covered in the initial orientation class. Anyone who feels they cannot or will not follow the Code of Conduct will not be allowed to participate in the programs.