My 57-year old school needs a playground

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The roughest slide on earth made shiny by countless butt slides! A poorly-built play facility cannot dampen the children's enthusiasm to pMy sister Nanette, a school teacher, said a concrete slide was built years back for the children. But teachers got concerned it was done very roughly.

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!

I studied in this very room! I remember struggling to carry my things upstairs because I was small and skinny.

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.

The proposed space for the playground. With your help, we can make this space the liveliest and happiest place on earth. Take on the challenge, graduates and child advocates!

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.

Thousands of lives have passed through the classrooms of this simple building and changed lives. Amazing journeys started here, including mine.

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.

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Thousands of children walked from the villages to the school to reach for their dreams. Many succeeded, some didn't. Let's keep that number dwindling. All we need to to is show we care. It's time to share!

“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

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2 thoughts on “My 57-year old school needs a playground

  1. An article hitting home ..bulls-eye !! When we are so blessed with so much, with all the branded perfumes, bags, sandals and dresses … not counting on the bears and dolls we just would put on our lockers for display …and here we see, a child waiting till the end of a party just to have the left overs for her family !!! How unfair life is for them ..how in the world it happened that blessings are not extending to them ?

    I can only ask this in mind, but in contention – I bow my head in humility and thankfulness that despite hardships we have in life when we are starting as well …going school in just one sandals or shoes for the whole year ..a uniform we need to wash in each evening so we can wear them fresh the following day ..and all we thought then how life hard it is.

    I still can say, we are as much luckier. Thanks God, we have parents who are given chances and opportunities to send their kids to school , may it be a poor public school, end of the day, look at where we are now 🙂

    A beautiful write up Cec …it hits home and again I say ..thanks for the grounding articles …

    Take care and please ..more to come 🙂 Stay safe and healthy, wherever you are 🙂

    Fatimah D

  2. Thanks Lorns for the non-stop inspiration! It is so relieving – and fun, I must say – to be sharing all these stories and there’s more!

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