Baseball players discover that being yourself is the greatest gift
~ I Can book series encourages youth ~
by Lisa & Tom Burnett
“Coach, Coach, is this the book we helped pick out the front cover for?” asked 10-year-old Julian King of St. Maarten Little League Player Development Program. “Yes, it is,” answered the baseball coach. So Julian sat down excitedly to read I Can Be Me by Miriam Laundry.
The book tells the story of a little girl named Maria, who had recently moved to Canada from Ecuador and was finding it difficult to adjust to her new life. The food in the new land was different and some of the children at school teased Maria about the lunch her mom would pack for her. Maria discovered that everyone is different and she learned to celebrate the differences instead of hiding from them.
“The children had to do a discovery project for school,” said Julian. Maria discovered fingerprints are as different as the people that they are on. “She also learned words can hurt people so you should be nice,” said Francine, also reading the book at Player Development.
I Can Be Me is the third book in Miriam Laundry’s I Can series. Book one is I Can Believe in Myself and book two is I Can Make a Difference. Laundry wrote the three books to help children reach their full potential.
Player Development has been using the first two books in the series for nearly two years. I Believe in Myself has become part of the team’s mental game training, while Make a Difference is part of the teambuilding process.
Julian King was one of 10 children from the program who travelled to Canada this past summer. In Canada, the group met with Laundry, who a hails from St. Catharines, Ontario. Laundry told the group about her current writing project and asked the children if they would help her pick out the cover for the I Can Be Me book. Of course, everyone in the group, from the six-year-old to the teenagers, said yes.
She showed the team several suggestions and the children voted as to which one they liked best. “This is the design I voted for,” said Julian with a big smile.
During the morning-long session in Canada, Laundry talked to the members of the baseball team about believing in themselves. She urged the players to never use the words “I can’t.” In fact, in her I Can Believe in Myself book; she uses a paper shredder to rid the characters of their “can’ts”.
That day Laundry had a shredder and each person in the room was given the opportunity to write down one “I can’t.” One by one, each person stepped forward, read his “I can’t” statement to the group and then shredded it.
The session was so powerful that the next day, one of the boys, who had a fear of heights, looked at a three-storey tall climbing wall and said, “I know I should not say I can’t climb this.” So he tried. When he reached the apex, he looked down tentatively and slowly let go of the hand hold with one hand and waved to his friends on the ground. One hand still held the rail tightly, but he smiled and once down, he announced, “I can!”
The team was introduced to the book series by the Rotary Club of St. Catharine’s, Canada. A group of coaches from Rotary district 7090 visited St. Maarten in 2015 and brought copies of Laundry’s books as well as sports gear to help promote a healthy lifestyle. Player Development was one of the groups the Rotary members visited that summer.
The children loved the stories and really took to I Can Make A Difference. In that book, children learn money is not the only way to help others. Children can use their talent – whatever it may be – to make a difference in the lives of those around them.
After the children read the book, they had to think of a way they could make a difference. The boys that could play ball offered to help the younger ones. The children that could read well offered to help those who could not.
A year after that visit, the Canadian Rotary Club invited the Player Development group to Canada. The children saw Niagara Falls, museums, two Blue Jays games, and they played a baseball game with the local youth team. When they met Miriam Laundry, they were surprised as she asked them to help pick out the design for the cover of her new book.