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03/04/2004 10:10 AM ET
Major League Baseball announces 2004 Breaking Barriers Essay Contest winners
Daughter of baseball legend Jackie Robinson to visit winners of national competition
tickets for any Major League Baseball game
Major League Baseball today announced the winners of the 2004 Breaking Barriers: In Sports, In Life National Student Essay Contest. In acknowledgement of this honor, the winning students will receive a visit from Sharon Robinson, Educational Programming Consultant for Major League Baseball and daughter of baseball legend Jackie Robinson. A complete list of the essay contest winners is below.

The 2004 Breaking Barriers National Essay Contest, which is open to students in grades K-12, is a major component of the Breaking Barriers program. The annual contest encourages children to write about a barrier or obstacle they have faced or are still facing in their lives, and how they used the values exemplified by Jackie Robinson to deal with those obstacles. The grand prize winners receive (1) IBM ThinkPad laptop computer system featuring $1000 of Microsoft software, (2) a Jackie's Nine baseball jacket, (3) signed copies of Sharon Robinson's new book Promises to Keep for the winner's entire class and (4) two sets of 100-book Hero Libraries, one for the winner and one for the classroom.

As part of the Breaking Barriers program, Sharon Robinson will embark on a nationwide, multi-city tour beginning in March. In addition to her stops to congratulate all 2004 essay contest winners, Robinson will visit schools throughout the country to address children and read from her book, Promises To Keep, an inspirational collection of writings that examines the values she associates with her father. During the tour, various Major League Baseball players will join Robinson at the Breaking Barriers events. The players will share their life experiences and help reinforce the nine values featured in the program. To date, nearly 80 players have visited schools throughout the United States, Puerto Rico and Canada on behalf of Breaking Barriers.

Now in its seventh year, Breaking Barriers is a multi-curricular character education program developed by Major League Baseball, the Major League Baseball Player's Trust for Children, and Scholastic Inc. Using baseball as a metaphor for life, the Breaking Barriers curriculum is based on the values demonstrated by the late Jackie Robinson, who broke the Major League Baseball color barrier in 1947. Breaking Barriers motivating, baseball-themed activities reinforce literacy skills, mathematics, science and social history in addition to addressing the critical issues of character development, such as conflict resolution and self-esteem. To date, Breaking Barriers has reached more than 14 million students in Major League and Minor League Baseball markets in the United States and Canada.

2004 Jackie's Nine Essay Contest Winners:

Grades K-3
Rajah Pennington - Kansas City, Mo. | winning essay (pdf)
Adrienne Ebersole -- Fulton, Mo. | winning essay (pdf)
Michael Guerero -- Long Beach, Calif. | winning essay (pdf)

Grades 4-6
Astead W, Herndon -- Flossmoor, Ill. | winning essay (pdf)
Whitney Alecia Boyd -- Flossmoor, Ill. | winning essay (pdf)
Carline Pierre -- Brockton, Mass. | winning essay (pdf)

Grades 7-12
Jasmine Jeter -- Jersey City, N.J. | winning essay (pdf)
Brad Kirkham -- Laurel, Miss. | winning essay (pdf)
Xiau Di Tong -- New York, N.Y. | winning essay (pdf)

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