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HELPERS: Newmarket Hawks dig in to support food network

The baseball team of boys aged 9 and 10 headed to Mulock Community Garden as part of the team initiative to 'put a spotlight on the importance of charity work and giving back to the community'

Team sports offer a myriad of benefits for youth, from promoting physical fitness to encouraging respect and sportsmanship.

And for the Newmarket Hawks 10UA baseball team, team sports also promote volunteerism and giving back to the community.

In June, the team, consisting of boys aged nine and 10, partnered with the York Region Food Network for a charity event that saw them assist with maintaining crops at Mulock Community Garden. The “educational” day saw the boys spreading woodchips on the gardens, getting rid of weeds, and assisting older volunteers with their plots.

“When we were looking at our different options for a charity event, we felt that this was an age-appropriate item,” said Amanda Harrison, head coach of the Newmarket Hawks 10UA team. “There were so many large factors involved: it’s a team-building activity, it encourages healthy eating and concern for the environment, and there’s that piece of giving back to the community. And what better way to give back to the community than helping to feed them with fresh food?”

“We just feel like these boys are at an age where they should start giving back and start thinking of things outside of their own lives and sports and activities,” said Aliya Syed, parent volunteer with the Newmarket Hawks 10UA team. “We had a great team of parents who were actively participating as well.”

Come harvest season, a portion of the food grown at 900 Mulock Dr. will be donated to local food banks, providing healthy food for those in need.

Established in 1999, the garden offers 106 10x20-foot self-managed personal plots, and is one of several community gardens operated by the York Region Food Network.

“Baseball’s just not about the baseball, it’s about learning life skills,” said Harrison. “At their age of nine and 10 years old, I felt that they could start really understanding giving back to the community and the volunteer experience. I think having that experience when they’re younger definitely promotes that as they get older and into adulthood, and gives them the life skills to become good citizens in the community.”

Harrison reports that “every single one” of the players have said they had fun at the event, and are eager to help out the community again. In the fall, the team hopes to partner with the York Region Food Network once again to harvest the food and help with the food-growing process from start to finish.

“I liked helping the community because I never did something like that before,” said Kaden Syed, a player who volunteered at the event. “It also was fun seeing everyone on my team.”

“We feel that as members and players for the Newmarket Hawks, these kids have a responsibility to be role models in the community,” said Aliya Syed. “We would like them to not only represent a baseball team, but to also put a spotlight on the importance of charity work and giving back to the community.”