The innovation that our group decided to explore was the New York Mets' community initiative program, “Mets on the Move.” This program has serviced over 1500 youth through athletic clinics and athletic donations. This innovation contributes to SDG 3: Good Help and Well-Being. Our group was able to get a view of this program with insights from Tevion Johnson, an associate in the Community Outreach department.
St. John's University
The Mets on the Move program is an innovation that our group found very interesting. The Mets on the Move program is an engaging and unique way for youth to learn about fitness through a curriculum and athletic clinics created by the Mets. Throughout the baseball season, Mets players and staff also donate athletic and baseball equipment to the participants in the program. At the end of the summer, all participating youth are invited back to Citi Field for Fitness Day, where they complete one last round of clinics and are presented with Mets-themed prizes.
This program started six seasons ago when the organization recognized a need to educate the youth in the community about the importance of health and fitness. The Mets wanted to have a focus on the youth, recognizing the importance of “planting a seed” at a young age to incorporate great health habits throughout life.There are a number of individuals involved in making this program a success. The Community Outreach department is the foundation. They are responsible for reaching out to non-profit, schools, and other community organizations looking to participate in the Mets on the Move program. They are also responsible for staffing and operating clinics. Another department that plays a key role is the player relations department. Whenever a Mets player is needed for an appearance at one of the clinics, the player relations department acts as a liaison between the player, their agent and the Mets on the Move program. The final department needed to make the program complete is the marketing department. They are integral to the program and the process of getting information out to the community about the program. While interviewing Tevion Johnson of the Community Outreach Department, he emphasized the importance of communication in order to keep all departments on the same page.
The Mets on the Move program reflects on the Mets as an organization and their commitment to not only providing opportunities but also educating the youth on health and fitness. The Mets are not only committed to their community but have an interest in helping the youth all over. Johnson expressed that the Community Outreach Department has intentions of taking the program international, stopping in the Dominican Republic first.
In regards to community outreach, the Mets hold public health, especially concerning children, as paramount to their mission. Teaching children how to stay active and eat well provides them with lifelong pillars to a healthy lifestyle. According to Mr. Johnson, “Health and wellness initiatives teach kids how to be active, but also how to eat and to have all the building blocks for nutrition because being active is just one part of being healthy.” The Mets on the Move program is motivated by the happiness and joy seen in the children’s eyes during the program. These programs take place in areas of low socioeconomic status, and with children that have undergone numerous hardships. Beyond the health and fitness aspect of Mets on the Move, it gives the children the opportunity to be a kid that doesn't have to worry about their hardships, even if it is only for a short amount of time. According to Mr. Johnson, “It’s all about the joy of it. Once they get past the joy of it, that’s when they get the message.” Mets on the Move targets communities with low socioeconomic status, and these programs are created to remedy an inadequacy in education in communities that lack it.
Since its inception, Mets on the Move has had a noticeable impact on both the business and the community. As Johnson said in the interview, “The bottom line is to always drive profit, so the question is how do you drive profit by doing good?” For major league baseball teams like the Mets, driving profit consists of selling tickets to games, selling merchandise, and television broadcasting deals, among other things. As Johnson pointed out, baseball viewership is declining, which naturally is a cause for concern for the bottom line. Through youth programs like Mets on the Move, as Johnson articulated, “we invest in the youth so that hopefully later on down the line they can then invest in the organization.” From a business perspective, a program like Mets on the Move builds up the organization in the long run by introducing the interest in baseball at a young age, which the children participating will hopefully carry with them as the grow into their adult lives. There may not be concrete results right away in this case, but with programs like Mets on the Move, organizations can work on sustaining their success into the future.
As for the impact on the community, Johnson notes, “the biggest impact that I see at this stage is the joy on their faces.” Mets on the Move mostly operates in communities of low socioeconomic status, so most of the kids who participate face various challenges at home that may limit their childhood experiences. With Mets on the Move, the kids who participate have the opportunity to fully embrace their childhood, taking the focus away from any inequality they may be burdened with. Beyond that, Mets on the Move also provides health education that can change the way the participants live their lives now and in the future. Mets on the Move teaches kids about the importance of eating well and staying active, which has become more important as obesity rates and health conditions associated with being overweight have risen over the past few years. As mentioned in the previous section, Mets on the Move not only creates a joyful experience but also communicates an important message that will hopefully make a strong impression on these young lives.
There are many business benefits that can come out of the Mets program. First, the program started by targeting the school-going young people. This is the best group for launching such a program, because their programs are more obvious and predictable, and they are easy to use it to measure how acceptable they are to people. In the future, this model has great potential to attract more participants from diverse backgrounds, who can be a source of income. It can accommodate more people who are working, or stay-at-home moms to also take part in the program. All this will mean that the program will grow in revenue.
The other business benefit is that the program is selling something that relates to society. Raising fitness awareness is something that is accepted by the entire society. This means that the program should have a very easy time convincing people to join. Obesity in America and every major city is a big problem that everybody wants to find a solution to. Lifestyle diseases such as diabetes and some coronary diseases are another class of diseases that can be solved or managed through fitness programs. In our current world, there is a large focus on people wanting to look more athletic and physically fit. Therefore, the program has a business benefit of acceptability and easy marketing.
Another major benefit of the program is the possibility to diversify and expand it. After it is successful with the students, it is possible to bring on board members from the public, who can have special schedules that accommodate them even if they are working. At this point, it is economically viable and can hire trainers, which can then turn it into the model of a fitness club. From here, it is possible to turn the program into providing a wide range of services, such as gym, physical therapy, and fitness for various groups. For example, it can innovate and bring a product that suits stay-at-home moms because they exercise the least of any group. Another related benefit is that the program will attract a lot of sponsors, such as companies in the sports industry. This means that it can easily raise the funds needed to run the program.
The Mets on the Move initiative is driven by the joy that it brings to children in low socioeconomic communities, all of whom have been living with hardships that other children do not. Children from these communities have struggled hardships such as food, security, aspects of poverty, etc. and Mets on the Move gives these children the opportunity to escape their realities, have fun, and just be kids.When asked about the societal impact of the Mets-on-the-Move impact, Johnson said, “When we go into these communities and these schools and implement Mets on the Move, we’re giving them the opportunity to be a kid, giving them the opportunity to play and not have to worry about whatever may be going on in their lives.”
This opportunity has not only created a sense of joy in children, but Johnson alludes to the reception of the main message of this program, which is teaching children about healthy, sustainable lifestyles. Johnson mentioned that after the joy of the program subsides, children recall what the objective of the program was, and how they can implement it into their everyday lives. Not only does this program make children happy and communities stronger but it enforces healthier lifestyles of younger generations.
Tevion Johnson, Community Outreach Associate
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Queens, New York, US
Business Website: https://www.mlb.com/mets
Year Founded: 1962
Number of Employees: 1001 to 5000