This year's United Nations International Youth Day coincides with the start of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs SportsUnited Division's multi-national baseball and softball visitor program. A group of 20 enthusiastic teenagers-- 11 girls and 9 boys -- and four coaches from Ecuador, Mexico, and Panama recently arrived for a fast-paced series of activities centered on the theme sports of baseball and softball. What better way to celebrate International Youth Day than embark on a whirlwind sports experience designed for energetic and young athletes?
Throughout the two-week program, the young athletes will engage with their American counterparts, take part in team-building activities, and learn about American culture through the iconic sports of baseball and softball. During the first leg of the program, the delegation will participate in sports clinics, morning workouts, and an "umpiring" session. A special pitching clinic with members of the Orioles team will serve as a highlight for this portion of the program. To cap off the week, they will attend a Ripken Little League World Series Game and conflict resolution activity with Harlem RBI, a local non-profit that provides inner-city youth with opportunities to play ball. The final stop for the group is Williamsport, Pennsylvania where the sports visitors will participate in events around the 2012 Little League World Series.
Youth and sports go hand in hand. Young people -- in Mexico, Ecuador, Panama, the United States, and all around the world -- are the future generation of leaders and coaches. They are also significant players in the present. Young people are capable of sliding flawlessly to catch a fly ball, sprinting to home plate, and hitting a home run. However, they may be even better at offering new solutions, learning about new cultures, teaching others about their culture, and redefining positive people-to-people exchanges.
August 12 marks International Youth Day with this year's focus as "Building a Better World by Partnering with Youth." Why not team up with the next generation? Batter up!