“Play is our brain’s favorite way of learning.” – Diane Ackerman
The children were so excited to play on it, unmindful of quality issues. “We were surprised one day to see the slide turned smooth enough for gliding – like somebody applied loads of floor wax to make it slippery!”
After thousands of butt slides later, the rough concrete just gave way to the children’s enthusiasm. But isn’t it a sad reality among public schools? A playground is among the facilities very often taken-for-granted. Hundreds of children go to a school where they get to spend half of their waking life daily, and no space to play?
Well, if there is not enough budget for classrooms, how can there be funds for playgrounds? An American TV personality Fred Rogers said: “Play gives children the chance to practice what they’re learning.” Imagine what the children are missing!
Lamba Central School was established in 1954. Older than me by at least a decade. After educating thousands of children from Lamba, my small barangay (village), and neighboring areas, the school seemed to have stopped on a standstill instead of progressing. Well, it depends on your definition of progress.
At present, at least 600 children study in the school. Majority coming from very poor families. I am proud to have graduated from this humble school. Make that very proud!
My sister graduated here. Most of my cousins and relatives did. Many of the teachers were my uncles and aunts. My mom was the Home Economics teacher for years before she retired. I felt bad to see the HE building reduced to a crumbling shell. I wonder if it can still be rebuilt. Who knows?
Now, many of the younger teachers are close kins. Gosh, many of the students are my nephews and nieces I can hardly recognize! If you are looking for a Laguardia, find them in this school.
In my time, I was one of the lucky ones whose house is just one-minute walk away. Many of the children walk for an hour or two to go to the school. Many just have rice and salt, or bagoong (fish sauce) for lunch.
In one of their Christmas parties in the classroom, my sister told me of the girl who waited for all her classmates to leave after the party was over. She then asked my sister if she can collect all the leftovers so she can bring them to her siblings at home.
I cried on this story. We fret and huff how we can avoid eating on parties for fear of adding more weight! This girl has her deprived family’s welfare in mind. I wondered how many are like her languishing in hunger when many among us are stuffed with material things in our already bulging cabinets. From then on we started sponsoring food and goodies every Christmastime. But I know it is not enough.
They say, every big achievement begins with simple steps. That was one. But it must not stop from there. It needs to move on to medium and large ones to get to the goal.
In one of my trips back home, it just dawned on me. Why not build a playground! I haven’t seen one on my elementary years.
Why deprive the new generation when we can do something? My closest was playing hide and seek with my classmates around the trees.
One of children’s rights is to be able to play. Apart from home, the best place for play is in school, as they learn the basics, of course. Most of affluent schools have one. Many of the public schools do not. Depressing. The poor children, who already have less, are deprived of this most important space in their growing years.
You remember taking on the heights in a swing? The daring you get, the higher you soar. Like life, actually. When you get down on a slide, you feel scared. But as you keep doing it, you keep building that courage. See-saw teaches you how to keep the balance. Children get to learn a lot in a playground.
My recent visit to the school where I got my primary education got me into a challenge. I have gone around at least 15 countries burning with passion on helping people, especially on humanitarian emergencies. How can I set sights at a far distance when I should be starting from where I came from?
Chris Guillebeau, my favorite author who got me fired-up with his book The Art of Non-Conformity said, “Instead of being easy, the most memorable times in our lives are the most challenging. Overcoming the challenge is worth it in the end, but the challenge itself is also worth pursuing.”
I am sure its not too late to bring that passion home and help my own. Join me! Please like us in our fan page (click here to go to Lamba Central School Playground Challenge in Facebook).
Are you interested to help? To support Lamba Central School’s Playground Challenge, please deposit your donations at BPI-Koronadal Account # 0018-3312-4508 under account name Nida T. Bustamante/Elisa L. Depalubos, project committee treasurers/teachers. For international deposits through Bank of Philippine Islands(BPI) Koronadal Branch, the code is BOPIPHMM. Send us a private message as soon as you deposit so we can acknowledge.
“Play energizes us and enlivens us. It eases our burdens. It renews our natural sense of optimism and opens us up to new possibilities.” – Stuart Brown