Lost Boyz Inc.
Founded in 2009 by LaVonte Stewart, Lost Boyz Inc. provides sports-based youth development to help young people in the city’s underserved communities develop confidence, resilience, and life skills.
Between January and October each year, Lost Boyz features its MVP Youth Baseball & Softball and Successful Youth Leaders programs. Under the umbrella of MVP baseball and softball are fall ball, winter clinic, and spring training/league play, which provides programming for 150 girls and boys between four and seventeen.
This year altered how Lost Boyz typically operates, so it was essential to connect with its core group not just through sports but through their participants’ interpersonal lives. In the early days of the mandatory city and state-regulated shelter in place order, the Lost Boyz team spent time creating lessons and exercise programs and putting them online. The organization also sought to help support families in need and has gone above and beyond to make sure youth in their care know that they have a team of adults who will mentor and support them.
“They realized the most important thing was going to be the connection and making sure that the youth and their families had basic needs met,” said Deb Hass, a consultant with Prince Charitable Trusts. “Across our sports-based youth development programs, including Lost Boyz, we’ve heard a lot about the quick pivot to delivering food and PPE supplies to families in addition to continuing to support them [by] getting on the phone or getting on a video call to talk to them.”
When the shelter in place order was lifted by state officials last summer, the boys and girls hit the baseball field safely and cautiously. Lost Boyz created a new role, a COVID officer, whose job entails developing and overseeing safety protocols that were outlined by state and local public health officials. This new role will continue into the new year.
Lost Boyz also uses a team management application that added a health check component this year, which made protocols easier to track than using paper health screeners as they had previously. Additionally, temperatures were taken, and parents were required to complete screening questions before any in-person activities took place.
Lost Boyz’ safety precautions also extended to opposing teams, which were required to play with similar policies and procedures. Coaches of the Lost Boyz team also had the discretion to cancel games if they weren’t comfortable with the safety measures of opposing teams.
“The feedback Lost Boyz received from parents demonstrated that they were so appreciative of the summer play and the opportunity for kids to do normal summertime things [safely] during this time,” Hass said. “Those opportunities were relatively few and far between, so the fact that you could play baseball in and of itself was a pretty amazing thing.”
During these challenging times, many have found a way to adapt and connect in safe and meaningful ways. Lost Boyz is still a beacon of light for the young people that it services in Chicago. Visit LostBoyzInc.org to learn more and donate to its upcoming programs.