Support Youth and Adult Softball Through PALS in Belize!
We are excited and honored that Philadelphia Adult League Softball will be hosting our first softball service trip to Belize in July 2019! To be held Sunday, July 14 through Tuesday, July 23, 2019, this nine night trip--coordinated with the Belize City Softball Association--will take a team of 15 players and two league organizers throughout the country to Belize City, Cayo District, San Pedro, and Caye Caulker. We'll facilitate youth softball clinics, provide much-needed equipment, play softball games with local coed teams, volunteer with non-profit organizations including local animal shelters, and see some of the sights in Belize. One of our key goals is to support local efforts to increase access and exposure to softball and baseball among young people throughout the country, reducing barriers to participation. We are raising funds to purchase and donate youth and adult softball equipment as well as to make monetary and in-kind donations to the organizations we volunteer with in-country; we are also raising funds to minimize participant player travel costs. Read more to learn why this is so important and see how you can help.
Why PALS in Belize?
For many of us in the United States who grew up playing sports--or have children who now play sports--it is hard to imagine a childhood without baseball or softball. However, for many kids in the Central American country of Belize, they have never had the opportunity to play. “Baseball is my favorite sport,” says Shane D. Williams, President of the Belize City Softball Association, “and I only played in once in my life.” There is currently no Little League in Belize (though there are some beginning efforts to reestablish it) and baseball has not been played in the country in any organized way since 1993. As a result, many children never step foot in the batter’s box, despite that baseball is well loved by many in Belize. In fact, Belizeans are often die hard Cubs fans because one of the only channels they received through the 1990s was WGN out of Chicago, which created a deep love of the MLB team.
Softball is more widespread for both boys and girls; however, limited resources, exposure, and access to equipment and facilities means that basketball and soccer is more common. In Belize City, organizations such as the Belize City Softball Association--which this year is offering its first coed recreational league for adults--dream of engaging more young people in softball or baseball, particularly as they are based on the Southside of the city where limited opportunities and poverty affect the lives of the children who reside there. “Positive recreational activities like softball provide youth with an opportunity to engage in a relationship-building exercise that teaches discipline, sacrifice, teamwork, and the importance of fair play,” explains Mr. Williams. “This goes a long way in an individual’s overall development.”
However, the Association currently does not have any equipment available to facilitate youth softball clinics, and needed items can be difficult to access--particularly with minimal resources--in the small country. The volume--and prohibitive expense--of equipment required to play as compared to other sports compounds these challenges. The need for equipment is particularly acute in Belize City, but is also felt throughout the country, such as in the rural areas in Cayo.
What We're Doing
As a result, at Philadelphia Adult League Softball we are excited to announce our first ever softball service trip to Belize. Since starting in West Philadelphia in 2012, we have believed in the power of recreational softball to not only be a place for friendly competition and a source of true camaraderie and friendship, but also to be a vehicle to collectively engage the community and support the efforts of non-profits and organizations where we play, live, work, and beyond. Our players have embraced this vision and enabled us to support a wide range of initiatives through monetary, in-kind, and volunteer efforts, including the Mill Creek Tee-Ball and Tommy C. Howell Basketball Camp at the field where we play, the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House, and the Animal Care and Control Team of Philadelphia (ACCT Philly), among others. While we will continue to partner with these organizations at home, we are honored to expand our reach and support the goal of the Belize City Softball Association to increase access and exposure to softball and baseball for young people throughout the country and reduce barriers to participation.
From July 14 through July 23, 2019, our team of 15 participants from the league and two league organizers will travel to Belize City and the village of Esperanza to facilitate softball and baseball clinics for approximately 130 young people ages 7-16, including residents of Belize City's Youth Hostel youth detention center, in coordination with the Belize City Softball Association so that children will have the opportunity to play for the first time. We will also donate a wide range of equipment so that these community clinics are sustainable and can continue long after we leave. For example, as of now the Belize City Softball Association only has one set of anchored bases that cannot be removed and easily transported from Rogers Stadium softball field. As many of the children who would most benefit from organized activities are unable to travel to the the field, just providing a set of throw down bases that they can bring into the community will help them expand their efforts, as will providing gloves, bats, helmets, balls, and other items needed for safe play.
In addition, we will donate equipment to enable the startup of new baseball and softball programs:
--The baseball equipment we provide will be used to kickoff the first ever Little League pilot program for these same residents of the Youth Hostel youth detention center, as well as residents of the Belize Youth Challenge Program for at-risk youth, enabling some of Belize City’s most vulnerable young people to come together and have the opportunity to play baseball for the first time.
--The softball equipment we provide will be distributed to 16 primary schools throughout Belize City that currently struggle with very limited resources and access to equipment, meaning lack of gloves, bats, and uniforms will no longer be an obstacle to children playing the game.
--The softball equipment will also be provided to schools in the isolated area of Punta Gorda in southern Belize where lack of equipment means that there are currently no softball or baseball programs for kids.
In addition to facilitating youth clinics and supporting youth programs, we will be playing other local coed teams in Belize City, Esperanza, and San Pedro. This will be a great cross-cultural opportunity to not only make new friendships but also to learn from one another and gain exposure to regional and cultural nuances in the game, showcase skills, and foster a friendly international rivalry. These international games will also help the local leagues to raise awareness of the sport and potentially attract new audiences--all of which is especially timely in Belize City as this is their first year offering coed rec leagues and it will be a valuable opportunity to highlight the sport and their players. Furthermore, as Belize City charges a minimal entrance fee that goes back to league to support field maintenance, umpire fees, and their other initiatives, these games offer a new avenue for promotion and hopefully increased attendance.
We will also be donating equipment to the teams we play as they are forced to share items and, as with youth equipment, these items are difficult to access and expensive. Having more equipment available also eliminates barriers to play as people can participate who can’t afford the many pieces of gear required.
Finally, to broaden our impact we will also be volunteering with and/or making monetary and in-kind donations to other organizations in Belize City, Cayo, San Pedro, and Caye Caulker, particularly animal welfare related organizations including the Cayo Animal Welfare Society, Caye Caulker Animal Shelter, Saga Humane Society in San Pedro, and the Belize City Humane Society. As the homeless dog and cat population is a widespread issue in Belize (as it is in Philadelphia), we want to support organizations that provide much needed services such as low cost veterinary care and vaccines, spay and neuter services, and foster and adoption programs. We are coordinating with these organizations to understand their greatest needs (as they also struggle with access to and expense of necessary supplies) and will provide these items. We will be volunteering on site with the Cayo Animal Welfare Society in San Ignacio and the Caye Caulker Animal Shelter.
How You Can Help
To do all of this, we truly need your help. You contribution can help in four main ways:
Softball/Baseball Clinics and Programs and Co-Ed League Support
We are collecting monetary contributions to purchase the youth equipment needed to facilitate the clinics while we are in country in Belize City and Esperanza (which will be left with the softball organizations to continue to run clinics after we leave). In addition, this equipment will enable the creation of the Little League pilot program in Belize City, support existing primary school softball programs, and bring softball and baseball to the isolated area of Punta Gorda. These items include softballs, gloves, composite bats, catcher’s gear, helmets, face masks, and more. As Mr. Williams explains, these items are critical. “Any donation will go directly to youth development and will ultimately change and save lives,” he says.
We are also collecting monetary contributions to purchase equipment for the teams we will be playing and collecting monetary contributions to make donations to the Belize City Softball Association to enable them to continue their work, as well as to the other softball leagues we will work with in Belize in Cayo and San Pedro.
Your contribution of: --$5 will provide one new softball --15 will provide one set of youth batting gloves --$20 will provide one youth batting helmet --$40 will provide a youth or adult softball glove --$55 will provide one box of softballs --$80 will provide a baseball/softball tee --$120 will provide one set of throw down rubber bases --$175 will provide one set of youth or adult catcher's gear --$200 will provide one youth or adult composite bat --$405 will provide gloves for one youth team (ten players) --$600 will provide a case of softballs (one dozen boxes totaling 144 balls) --Any amount is extremely helpful
We are also collecting monetary contributions to minimize the expenses of our 15 player participants to make the service trip feasible. As cost is often a barrier to participation for service trips and travel, we want to ensure that members of the league who want to participate are not excluded because of the expense and are able to be a part of this experience. As it costs each participant approximately $825 for lodging, transportation in country, and travel medical insurance--plus airfare--contributions will help reduce these costs for players ensuring they can participate. As the players will be facilitating the clinics and playing in the games with local teams--while serving as ambassadors of the league--their participation is critical. To see a full list of participating players, click here.
Your contribution of: --$55 will support one night of lodging for one PALS player --$125 will support in-country transportation for one PALS player --$500 will support lodging for one PALS player for the entire trip --Any amount is extremely helpful
Animal Welfare Organization Support
We are collecting monetary contributions to purchase needed supplies for the Cayo Animal Welfare Society, Caye Caulker Animal Shelter, Saga Humane Society in San Pedro, and the Belize City Humane Society including leashes, collars, toys, treats, stainless steel food bowls, medications, surgery supplies, and more; we are also collecting contributions to make a monetary donation to each organization.
Your contribution of: --$5 will provide one bag of dog or cat treats --$8 will provide a stainless steel dog bowl --$10 will provide a dog collar or leash --$11 will provide assorted catnip toys for cats --$18 will provide a Baskerville dog muzzle --$30 will provide a giant dog bed warmer --Any amount is extremely helpful
Equipment and Supply Donations
We are also more than happy to accept donations of new and gently used softball equipment for children and adults, as well supplies for the animal welfare organizations we will be supporting. For a full list of items, please click here.
Thank you so much for your consideration and support. Any amount truly helps. Our goal is that the trip is the first of many annual softball service trips and we are truly excited and honored to partner with wonderful organizations such as the Belize City Softball Association on this initiative and for the opportunity to expand our impact. We are also so grateful for our players who are participating and making this experience possible. We hope you will join us in making a difference through softball.
*As we are not a 501c3 organization your gift is not tax deductible but please consult a tax professional with any questions.