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Major League Baseball and Scholastic Launch 2019 “Breaking Barriers: In Sports, In Life” Educational Program Honoring the Legacy of Jackie Robinson

As Part of the Program, Students are Invited to Submit Original Essays about Overcoming Obstacles to the Breaking Barriers Essay Contest

New York, NY – WEBWIRE

Major League Baseball and Scholastic, the global children’s publishing, education and media company, have announced the launch of the 23rd annual “Breaking Barriers: In Sports, In Life” Educational Program, currently available in classrooms nationwide. Breaking Barriers features lessons for students in grades 4-9 based on the life of Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson—an especially timely theme in 2019 during the 100th celebration of his birthday. The program focuses on nine values: Citizenship, Commitment, Courage, Determination, Excellence, Integrity, Justice, Persistence and Teamwork, and includes an essay contest that invites students from the United States, Puerto Rico and Canada to share their own stories of how these values help them face and overcome barriers in their lives. In a student survey following the 2018 program, more than 90% of students agreed that “learning how Jackie Robinson faced his barriers with values has helped me to learn how to overcome challenges in my life.” 

Educators and students who wish to participate in the Breaking Barriers program can learn more here: 

The comprehensive educational program supports standards in language arts, social studies and social-emotional learning, and is offered in both English and Spanish. The program includes lesson plans, interactive digital activities to accompany each lesson, printable handouts, video extensions, and the Breaking Barriers essay contest. On January 31, in honor of her father’s birthday, program founder Sharon Robinson—MLB Educational Programming Consultant, acclaimed children’s author, and daughter of Jackie Robinson—participated in a special Scholastic Facebook Live event, during which she discussed the program’s educational benefits, as well as her father’s legacy, with Mark Honeyman, a middle school teacher from West Bloomfield, MI who has integrated Breaking Barriers into his classroom for many years. The full video of this Facebook Live event can be viewed at:

“The Breaking Barriers educational program is truly special to me. I am honored that on the 100th anniversary of my father’s birth, his values continue to help young people gain confidence and his story continues to inspire them to overcome difficult situations in their lives,” said Sharon Robinson, who in addition to her educational and philanthropic outreach is also the author of several widely praised fiction and nonfiction children’s books including Promises to Keep: How Jackie Robinson Changed America, Jackie’s Nine: Jackie Robinson’s Values to Live By, The Hero Two Doors Down, Testing the Ice: A True Story About Jackie Robinson, Under the Same Sun, among many others. Her forthcoming book, Child of the Dream, a timely new memoir which explores her experience coming to grips with the struggle for racial equality during the Civil Rights Movement, will be published by Scholastic in fall 2019.

In 2018, over 13,000 students participated in the Breaking Barriers essay contest, with nearly 80% of surveyed students agreeing that “writing an essay about my barrier and how I used values like Jackie’s to face it has given me confidence to overcome new challenges in my life.” Open to all students in grades 4–9 throughout the U.S., Puerto Rico, and Canada, submissions are now being accepted for the essay contest through March 14, 2019. Ten (10) winners will be announced in the spring, including two Grand Prize winners who will receive on-field recognition at either the 90th MLB All-Star Game in Cleveland or the 2019 World Series. All 10 winners and their teachers will receive laptops. 

“For more than 20 years, Breaking Barriers has brought social emotional learning strategies into the classroom in innovative, engaging and relatable ways,” said Ann Amstutz Hayes, Senior Vice President, Scholastic National Partnerships. “Not only has the program given students a positive role model to look up to, but it has helped them overcome their own challenges, build self-esteem, and develop meaningful values of their own.” 

Since its inception in 1997, Breaking Barriers: In Sports, In Life has reached more than 37 million children and 5 million educators in the continental United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. For more information on the Breaking Barriers educational program, please visit 

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