CHICAGO -- The White Sox and Bulls launched a series of public service announcement videos Wednesday highlighting an anti-violence message and the teams' partnership with Youth Guidance, a leading provider of school-based programs serving more than 14,000 at-risk youth in 70 Chicago Public and charter schools.
Support of Youth Guidance, specifically the organization's B.A.M. (Becoming A Man)-Sports Edition program, is part of the teams' shared commitment to violence prevention in the city of Chicago. The special PSA videos, launched in advance of summer vacation, feature "discussion sessions" with young men from B.A.M. programs at Hyde Park Academy and Little Village Academy, as they engage with Bulls players Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson, along with White Sox executive vice president Ken Williams, respectively.
"As sports organizations, the Bulls and White Sox are fortunate to work with groups like Youth Guidance, who are in our communities working with kids every day," said Bulls and White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf in a statement announcing the PSAs. "Our goal as a partner is to shine a light on organizations like Youth Guidance and to encourage young people who are looking for support to reach out to them and others in the community who are addressing the issue of violence."
Since early 2012, the White Sox and Bulls have worked with B.A.M. and have provided youth in the program with mentoring opportunities, arena and ballpark tours and organized career presentations, among other activities. Players, coaches and executives from both teams have participated in additional discussion sessions and also recorded video messages about the program's core values, which are used in discussion sessions and other programming.
Youth Guidance's B.A.M. - Sports Edition is a school-based counseling, mentoring, violence prevention and educational enrichment program that promotes social, emotional and behavioral competencies in at-risk male youth. Results of a study released by the University of Chicago Crime Lab in 2012 project that B.A.M. participants will experience a 10 percent increase in graduation rates, a reduction in failing grades by 37 percent and a decrease in violent crime arrests by 44 percent.
"Becoming a Man helps young men find evidence of their worth, strengthen their connection to and success in school, and help build safer communities," said Michelle Morrison, Youth Guidance CEO. "We share the hope of the Bulls and White Sox that kids who see these powerful videos will be inspired to engage in constructive conversations that will allow them to move from feeling powerless to realizing their own power and ability to bring about positive change in their lives as well as the lives of others in their communities."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.