The young men selected for participation in the Field of Dreams (FOD) were chosen by Caterina, the principal of School 17. She felt they had the potential to be a positive force within the school, and ultimately in the larger community. Caterina and we believe that developing future leaders is our most important challenge if we are to make positive changes in our schools and our community.
Many, some would say most, youth who live in Rochester proper not only are resource poor financially, but also limited in the range of cultural opportunities available. The Rochester City School District (RCSD) does expose them to museums and field trips, however it is rare indeed when they can go to a pure fun event like a baseball game, or a fireworks display or an overnight campout! So how about doing all three at one time!
That in a nutshell is the activity list for the Field of Dreams. Plus it offers the opportunity for engagement with law enforcement personnel in a sharing environment (chaperones, fun time through various activities, SWAT vehicle, robots, mounted police), healthy eating, leadership conversations, and interactions with strangers. Need I say that none of the young men had ever been to a ballgame? Or camped out overnight away from home?
To see 10, 11 and 12 year old boys totally relaxed and having fun is a joyous event. It borders on sensory overload for them and certainly for us chaperones. Try to put yourself back to that age. What places and happenings did your parents expose you to? What was it like to be standing underneath that first large fireworks show? Imagine sleeping overnight in a baseball stadium. Yelling to get the attention of the first baseman, or being part of the entertainment between innings on the field with thousands of onlookers!
A number of the boys were awake past 4 AM in a round table discussion with police officer Moses Robinson. A genuine give and take discussion about their daily lives and his. Very affecting for all. That opportunity for sharing would never have taken place outside of FOD.
Through your Stewardship YOU have provided these experiences for these young men. The full impact of the evening and morning might not show up for months or years, but they will matter very much to these boys. They help bolster belief in their own possibilities and provide connections in multiple directions. You can be very proud to have helped lay the groundwork for the FOD through your faith and your stewardship.
We believe that by helping empower these young men, we help reduce mistrust and violence. The seeds are sown to help grow leaders within their community. it also provides us a window into their community. It challenges OUR preconceptions and beliefs, while enabling us to establish trust and a shared community space. It makes all of us less fearful, more optimistic and plants the seeds for a world of reconciliation!
The young men and we say “Thank you” to all at Third Presbyterian Church for your support and for your generosity.