Event will support the Athletic Scholarships for Kids program.
Writer / Jarod Turner
The Avon Junior Baseball Association became just the second non-profit organization in the area that bore the name Avon. It was started with the help of the Avon Optimist Club, which started in 1959.
Games were played where else, but right off of Highway 36. There were fields where the current Harlan Bakery and shopping center are now. Just six years later, the AJBA became the AJAA by adding a football program. Along the way, many volunteers helped build the programming to the 20 distinct programs that are offered now.
The Avon Community School Corporation has grown tremendously, and the purpose of AJAA is to provide students ages 5-18 team-based activities to help round out their childhood. AJAA is a proud partner with ACSC, and has solidified a 25-year agreement to utilize school property to run the athletic programs in which the children and parents of Avon want to participate.
As Avon and the unincorporated areas of Washington Township have seen a population boom to more than 45,000 people in the last decade, it has pushed the student population to more than 9,000 students. About 20 percent of those students participate in at least one sport at AJAA. AJAA registered 3,579 children in 17 programs in 2016.
ACSC also reports that about 27 percent of the student population is on the government’s free and reduced lunch program. This means that up to 2,500 children are living in households where there is most likely less than $30,000 of combined household income. AJAA recognizes that if a family has a hard time with general expenses such as school lunch, their children may suffer from not being able to participate in its programs.
AJAA has developed a new program called ASK — Athletic Scholarships for Kids. This program is designed to follow the same federal guidelines for free and reduced lunch for household income to offer subsidized fees up to 100 percent for children who may want to play organized recreational sports. With AJAA running three distinct seasons of spring, fall and winter, if a child would want to participate in a sport for all three seasons the cost could be as high as $445 for a year of sports.
As percentages go, AJAA realizes that some athletes that already play will qualify for assistance. This means that current registration revenue will take a hit. AJAA estimates an annual cost of this program to be up to $75,000 and will need help from the community to make this dream become a reality. And so, let the fundraising begin.
On June 30, AJAA will host its first ever ASK AJAA golf outing at Prestwick Country Club. This event will be more than just golf, as a dinner auction will follow. It is expected that this event will raise less than half of the overall annual target, but will be a great start.
The impact of organized sport offers opportunity for children to be active, make lasting relationships and to have a positive adult role model each season. If you or your company have the ability to give, visit ajaaonline.org and go to the ASK AJAA Golf outing registration. There, you could sign up as a golfer, team, sponsor or simply make a donation.
If everyone in the Avon/Washington Township could spare just $20 this year toward this fund, it could build an endowment that will last for many years to come.
The AJAA is grateful for the number of community partners and volunteers that keep things going, and hope you will consider to get involved with this program to help kids stay active in a positive program that will keep their brains engaged with others and not with a screen.