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Sharon Robinson shares dad's legacy with youth

Legend's daughter on hand to discuss Breaking Barriers program
Special to MLB.com

DALLAS -- Sharon Robinson visited the sparkling new Texas Rangers MLB Youth Academy on Wednesday and shared some of the lessons that helped her father, Jackie, overcome so many barriers in his life and career.

To Sharon, the most important lessons to share about her legendary father have little to do with his Hall of Fame playing career.

DALLAS -- Sharon Robinson visited the sparkling new Texas Rangers MLB Youth Academy on Wednesday and shared some of the lessons that helped her father, Jackie, overcome so many barriers in his life and career.

To Sharon, the most important lessons to share about her legendary father have little to do with his Hall of Fame playing career.

Rather, it's the story of the power of character in overcoming, coping and enduring the worst of hardships.

To her, that, and not merely the giant step he took for Major League Baseball and his country when he ran on to Brooklyn's Ebbets Field as MLB's first black player on April 15, 1947, is why her father should never be forgotten.

"We're hoping to transfer the values and points of character that helped my dad be successful in life and how they helped him overcome obstacles, and then they can apply those to their own lives," Robinson said. "What's more important is the fact that he set goals, followed through, stayed focused under pressure and played to his peak. We'll all run into problems, but we still have to perform."

Robinson was on hand to discuss her involvement in "Breaking Barriers: In Sports, In Life," a baseball-themed character education program developed by Major League Baseball and Scholastic Inc. that teaches children not only about Jackie Robinson's baseball journey and the value of good character, but also writing.

More than 10,000 children from the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico will submit essays describing how they have overcome personal barriers in their own lives through the example of Jackie Robinson.

The contest will reward 10 winners with prizes, including laptop computers, books written by Sharon Robinson and special trips to the 2018 MLB All-Star Game in Washington, D.C., and the 2018 World Series for the two grand prize winners.

On Wednesday, Sharon, an author and advocate of the importance of the written word, helped the children she addressed get started on their essays. She will teach them the basics of writing a story with a beginning, middle and end.

"I hope they have some fun and realize that writing can be fun … and using their imagination will stimulate some interest in writing because writing is essential for all kids," said Robinson. "We've met some incredible kids over the years."

Tweet from @sharonarobinson: Had a wonderful time with @RangersYA promoting #BreakingBarriers. March 14 deadline...get those essays in kids! pic.twitter.com/nLEnpTWbhZ

The kids, she said, write about various topics. One winner wrote about her mother and father not being in her life because of addiction and the struggle to pull away from someone you love because it's not a safe environment to be in. Another, a young boy in New Orleans, wrote about his struggle with stuttering. He said he believed school should be a place where you meet friends as well as learn, but, for him, it was the exact opposite.

"He wrote that he didn't know if he was born this way or if it happened when 'I witnessed my father shoot my mother, and then shoot himself.'"

There have been issues of diversity, sexuality, developing self-images and living with language barriers.

"You have the full breadth of experiences kids talk about."

Sharon is also making the trips in recognition of Black History Month. After a trip to Houston later this week, she will have visited each of the operating facilities in the MLB Youth Academy network.

To her, the Rangers facility is "not only an attractive place where they can play, but parents can drop them off and know they are being supervised, building their strength, their mental strength, working as a team, doing their homework. All of that is critical to kids."

John Henry is a contributor to MLB.com.

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