In the United States, we tend to take things – such as public schools and their physical education programs – for granted. People in other countries aren’t so fortunate. So School Specialty employee, Gloria Hazlett, decided to make a difference in her native Philippines. Gloria, a Coordinator in the Bids Department, has been living in the U.S. for the past 25 years. She enjoys returning for visits to the Philippines as often as possible, typically every 1-2 years, to visit her family still residing there. One visit in particular, in 2013, gave her an idea. The schools there have very limited resources (kids break pencils in two so more kids can have pencils in order to write) and she works for School Specialty, a company that specializes in selling school supplies and sporting equipment. Perhaps she could make an impact and spark a transformation.
At first, this was just an idea, but when the Philippines were hit with tremendous devastation from Typhoon Haiyan (known as Super Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines) it was time for action. Gloria went to the Merchandise Manager for the Physical Education division of School Specialty, DeAnna Koplien, with her idea to help out the schools in the form of supply and equipment donations. This idea was quickly embraced and turned into action. School Specialty receives free product samples from vendors, and these could form the basis of the donations to be sent to the schools in need in the Philippines!
Since Gloria grew up in the Surigao province, which was hit particularly hard by the typhoon, she wanted to begin helping the schools there. Four schools in that area received the first set of donations in 2014, followed by an additional three schools in 2016.
The kids’ eyes lit up when they saw the colorful playground balls, soccer balls, volleyballs, basketballs, and footballs. They couldn’t wait to get their hands on the new PE equipment. Since American football is a sport not generally played in the Philippines, kids were trying to bounce the football like a basketball. They noted that it does not give good bounce until the teacher showed them how it was used. The new equipment had an immediate, visible impact on the students.
The effects of these donations on the schools’ physical education programs were dramatic. Not only were the kids introduced to some novel equipment, but their previously limited physical education programs were greatly expanded. From playing primarily baseball and basketball before the donation, students were able to add more activities such as volleyball, jumping rope, bouncing, and soccer (previously only offered in high school) to their repertoire with the new equipment. Furthermore, schools doubled their physical activity time allocation from 30 minutes per day up to 60 minutes per day with the donation! All of this was made possible by turning an idea into action.
Although she’s already made a great difference in her native country’s schools, Gloria isn’t finished. Surigao province has a total of 21 schools, and she is planning another trip for 2017 with donations in hand.