Youth Leadership Development

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Recognizing the value that organized recreation offers inner city youth, The North Ward Center offers a year round program that provides hands on athletic development, teamwork skills and sportsmanship for more than 3,200 children. The Center's Youth Development and Recreation Program is based in The North Ward Center Youth Development Complex at St. Lucy's Church and is the largest private program of its kind in New Jersey.

Structured around the principles of learning the basic skills of basketball, baseball and softball, boys and girls acquire leadership skills, understand the value of cooperating with their peers and coaches and practice healthy lifestyle habits. Among the programs offered are:


The North Ward Center fields 16 basketball teams for more than 200 boys and girls ages 4-13. Registration is $50 and includes the cost of referees and uniforms. The league has three divisions, Junior Pee Wee, Pee Wee and Biddy. For more information visit the website.


The North Ward Center sponsors a Small Fry-affiliated program where local and community based teams participate city-wide. All participants in the league must be 12 years of age or younger by September 1st, and must measure less than five feet one inch tall before the season starts. If the player meets all the requirements, he/she is eligible to play. At the end of the season an All-Star Team is selected to compete in the State and the International Small Fry Tournament.


The league fields about 30 teams each year for boys and girls ages 5 to 16. Games are played at the newly-dedicated Stephen N. Adubato Sports Complex, located at Branch Brook Park. Registration is $50 and includes uniforms and trophies.


For boys ages 13-18. RBI, which stands for Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities, has a junior level for players 13-15 and a senior level for players 16-18. Both the senior and junior division teams represent Newark, N.J., at the Northeast Regional Tournament. If they qualify, the teams play in the RBI World Series held every year in a Major League Baseball park. Participants must try out for the teams. There are a limited number of openings.


For more than 25 years, the NWC has partnered with Puerto Rico through the Little League Sport Exchange Program. Members of the sports exchange team are selected from throughout Newark, so that each ward Little League has a representative. In addition to having athletic ability, players must exhibit good sportsmanship qualities, have a good academic standing and exhibit strong leadership skills.

While visiting Puerto Rico, players have an opportunity to compete in the game of baseball, but, more importantly, they are exposed to a different cultural experience. Visits to historical sites, interaction with family members from the host team, and the sportsmanship developed on the field offers each player priceless memories. For some of our children, the cultural exchange program provides their first trip abroad, while for others of Puerto Rican descent, the trip takes them to the island for the first time. The exchange program runs annually.

For further information about our programs, please call 973-481-0415