Ripken Baseball and the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation forged a new team with Columbia County on Saturday night.
The Augusta GreenJackets' parent company and the foundation bearing the name of future Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr.'s father, will join the county's public schools to teach fourth- and fifth-grade children character-building traits such as personal responsibility, leadership and developing healthful habits.
GreenJackets General Manager Nick Brown said the program, called Play Ball, is the first of its kind for the Ripken Foundation. It is being developed in partnership with the school system, the foundation, the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce and Doctors Hospital. The partners were announced before Saturday's Columbia County Chamber Night at Lake Olmstead Stadium.
Though the curriculum has yet to be finalized, Brown said Ripken Foundation personnel will come to each of the county's 16 elementary schools in mid- to late January to instruct teachers in a program that stresses positive choices relating to family, friends, their lives and careers.
"This is about doing something good in the community," Brown said. "We want Augusta to be at the forefront of this endeavor."
The program shown to pupils will include a Healthy Choice, Healthy Children curriculum that includes a DVD with an introduction by Cal Ripken Jr. and his brother Bill, and will teach children to live a drug-free life and will stress teamwork, responsibility and accountability.
Brown said the goal is to try to ensure that pupils are making good decisions early in childhood, and the instruction will be presented "in a fun way where they don't realize they are learning."
According to a news release, the program also includes a game based on baseball, called Quickball, that can be played indoors, the possibility of player or mascot visits to schools and recognition to high-achieving pupils and teachers at a GreenJackets game.
Before Saturday's game, the GreenJackets recognized three championship baseball teams from Columbia County at home plate. Recognized were: the Greenbrier High School Wolfpack AAAA Georgia State Champions, the South Carolina Independent Schools Association Champions Augusta Christian Lions and the Columbia County 11-12 All Stars Dixie Youth O Zone World Series Champions.
General Manager Nick Brown of the Augusta Greenjackets says program has yet to be finalized.
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