A small group from Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego will be bringing baseball to the Human Factor Leadership Academy in Akatsi, Ghana, this month. And they say they couldn't have done it without help from the Northwest suburbs.
Part of the annual study abroad program, this year the journey will involve teaching T-ball classes, which will give the children their first experience with American baseball.
The T-ball project is led by Eileen Griffin, a former youth athletic instructor for the Arlington Heights Park District and former AHYAA softball coach.
Griffin is joining the Human Factor Leadership Academy team to Ghana while completing her MBA at Point Loma Nazarene University.
With a great deal of support, everything necessary for the children to learn the basics of baseball has been provided. The Arlington Heights Park District donated T-shirts, hats and equipment, thanks to Jim Glueckert, the park district's director.
Once that was made possible, Griffin's sister, Debbie Kubitz of Arlington Heights, made sure the park district donations were picked up and shipped to San Diego for transport to Ghana.
Due to the Arlington Heights Park District donation, each child in the first grade at the Akatsi school will have a T-shirt and baseball cap with the park district's logo. Since many of the children have very little in the small village, the T-shirt and cap will be very much appreciated.
Griffin also relied on her other roots in the Chicago area. With an appeal to an old friend, Lisa Sarnowski, an additional 15 mitts arrived in San Diego.
"I was just amazed," Griffin said. "Lisa and her friends and neighbors from Barrington put us over the top."
The box from Barrington came with some very special mitts with the names of the children who owned them, while one even had signatures -- most likely from fellow teammates.
"It was so touching," Griffin said, "to open that box and see all those mitts and the handwriting, some clearly children's writing. Some people even bought brand-new mitts especially for this effort. I was amazed at the generosity."
John Plough and his son, Kristopher, also of Barrington, gathered many mitts for the effort.
With the support of the park district, as well as friends and family in Arlington Heights, Barrington, San Diego and even some from Indiana and Ohio, children at the Human Factor Leadership Academy in Akatsi will be receiving baseball mitts shared by American children.
The hope is each child will appreciate the thrill of teamwork and the pure joy of the game after this initial introduction.