Junior Giant wins ‘Strike Out Violence’ contest

Skye Kinkade
Sisson sixth grader John Latos’s poem about life with and without bullying was selected by the Junior Giants as the winner of the 2012 Imagine Peace Art Contest in the 11-18 year old age group. He will be honored during a special home plate ceremony at AT&T Park on Sunday during the Giants’ Strike Out Violence Day. John has been participating in Junior Giants for the past five years, and this will be his very first game at AT&T Park.

By Skye Kinkade

Being compassionate and standing up to bullies pays off. That’s what Sisson sixth grader John Latos is saying after being notified that his poem won the Junior Giants’ Imagine Peace Art Contest last week.

John – who has experienced bullying himself – envisioned a world both with and without bullies to write his poem, which won first prize in the 11-18 age category. He’ll be recognized for his efforts during a special home plate ceremony this Saturday at AT&T Park during the Giants’ Strike Out Violence Day.

John has been participating in Junior Giants for five years now, and this will be his very first big league game.

“This is the first time someone from the Mt. Shasta Junior Giants league has won the art contest,” said local Junior Giants commissioner Mike Rodriguez. “We’re thrilled for him.”

“We are grateful that John stepped up to the plate to talk about bullying – It’s not easy to do,” said Cassandra Hofman, Junior Giants and Special Projects Coordinator for the Giants Community Fund.

Hofman said the Junior Giants ask every league to send in the top three or four entries to their offices. They then review the entries and as a committee, vote for the two winning pieces (one for each age group). This year, Hofman said they received 20 entries for the 11-18 year old age group, but it’s likely many more were created at the local league level.

John’s mom, Kim, who’s the shelter manager at the Siskiyou County Humane Society, said her grandmother was a poet. Kim herself also won a poetry contest when she was in the fourth grade.

When John saw he could make a poster, write a poem or create a song for Junior Giants, he chose to write a poem.

“Mom said it is in my blood,” he said.

John went through several drafts of his poem before submitting it during Junior Giants practice.

He said he was “really happy and surprised” when he discovered he was the winner and is excited about going to a Giants game this weekend – especially because they’ll be playing the Dodgers, which is his favorite team. “It will be cool to be on a real baseball field,” said John, whose favorite Giants player is Brian Wilson.

Though John also enjoys playing Little League, he likes Junior Giants because it’s all about having fun.

“The coaches pay attention to all the kids... it’s cool because it’s non competitive,” said John, who thanked the Junior Giants program and all the coaches for their hard work bringing the program to Mount Shasta.

During his five years playing, he’s learned more about the different positions and also about staying healthy, nutrition, working as a team and violence prevention.

Junior Giants is a free, non-competitive program for boys and girls ages 5 to 18. Established in 1994, there are now more than 20,000 children in California, Oregon, and Nevada who participate.

John will travel to San Francisco with his mom and dad, his 19 year old brother, Tyler, and his brother’s girlfriend, Alyssa. Saturday’s game begins at 5 p.m.

Imagine Peace,

By John Latos

LIFE WITH A BULLY.......

  They make you feel pain,

  that you may or may not see

LIFE WITH A BULLY.......

  160,000 students a day stay away

  From the place that shapes them

  and place they can play

LIFE WITH A BULLY.......

  Things aren’t peaceful

  confused

  overwhelmed,

  scared,

  silent,

  withdrawn,

  nervous,

  lonely,

  controlled

LIFE WITHOUT BULLYING.......

  More people would enjoy going to school

  Tranquility

  Harmony

  Friendship

LIFE WITHOUT BULLYING.......

  He treats you with respect, all the time.

  She lifts your spirits, whenever you see her.

  The teacher understands you and offers you some advice.

LIFE WITHOUT BULLYING.......

  Your sister smiles at you and reminds you she’s there for you.

  Even though he’s way older, your uncle makes you feel important.

  Your parents have the trust thing going that makes you want to

  trust them back.

LIFE WITHOUT BULLYING.......

  The would can be like this, sometimes.

  Imagine – a world without bullying. Even for an hour, a day, a week.

  We can all make it happen.

  Stand Up Against Bullying