Chicago’s South Shore neighborhood ranks 8th among Chicago’s 77 community areas for violent crime reports. In this neighborhood, 31.5% of residents live below the poverty level and school-sponsored after-school programs are severely limited. Lost Boyz, Inc. (that now includes a girls program: Lost Girlz) is the only sports-based youth development organization in the region specifically using baseball and softball to serve the particular needs of at-risk youth. It also offers opportunities for athletes to transition into a secondary program that addresses workforce readiness and helps participants earn income.
Many youth from South Shore have benefitted from participating in the Lost Boyz/Girlz programs. By keeping young people involved in positive activities during times when they are most at risk (after school and during the summer), Lost Boyz has safeguarded children from potential gang involvement and victimization while providing personalized development techniques, coaching, and care for participants.
Fourteen-year-old Amaya has been with Lost Girlz for three years. She struggles with behavioral issues relating to her mental well-being. Recently, Amaya suffered one of her most serious episodes, placing her in an institution for medical observation. This seemed like the end of Amaya’s time with Lost Girlz, but her connection to the team couldn’t keep her away. Amaya's greatest concern during this ordeal was if she still had her spot on the team.
After recovery, Amaya quickly rejoined Lost Girlz, with the program providing her more intense, trauma-sensitive coaching. Through this help, Amaya succeeded at the end of school, completed the season with her team, strengthened her social circles, and improved her relationships with her mentors and family members.