Marshall Is Basketball donates sports shoes to schools
Girls and women have been targetted in this round of shoe donations to promote basketball and exercise in the Marshall Island community.
The Marshall Islands Basketball Federation (MIBF) has launched a new round of sports shoe donations to encourage elementary and middle school aged girls to play basketball in Majuro, and to promote exercise. As school resumed in late August, shoe donations were delivered by MIBF board members and MIBF’s National Basketball Development Officer Mouj Lewi to Ejit Elementary School and Rairok Elementary School, with plans to make donations to Delap Elementary and Rita Elementary during September.
MIBF board member Robert Pinho also donated a batch of adult size sports shoes to the non-government organization KIJLE (Kora in Jiban Lolorjake Ejmour), which is active in promoting walk-a-thons, weight loss competitions, and improved health, mostly focused on women.
The shoes were donated to MIBF by a Missouri-based group, the “Soul to Sole” ministry, that collects new and used sports shoes for Marshall Islanders. The project is the brainchild of Mindy and Steve Hubbard, who in 1997 adopted a Marshall Islander when he was a baby. Their son, Bram Hubbard, is now a teenager.
“When we were in the Marshall Islands, we were struck by the beauty of Majuro and by the poverty,” says Mindy. “We've always had a tug at our hearts to do something to be of help to Bram’s birth country.
In 2009, Soul to Sole was born and hundreds of donated shoes have been donated to Majuro schools and local NGOs active in health exercise promotion. The Marshall Islands National Olympic Committee has also assisted with support.
While the Hubbards have been the driving force behind the donations, Mindy says the “majority of funding (is from) church and community donations. The community has really jumped on board with shoe collecting. Church members, as well as elementary, junior high, and high school students have brought in shoes for donation.”
She said this is the first project of its type that she’s been involved in. “It has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. It was such an overwhelming feeling to see the first photo of the shoe donation at one of Majuro’s junior high schools. Looking at those girls holding shoes that I had packed was nothing short of amazing. To reach across the ocean and make a difference in a life feels good.”
Mindy said that her group is gearing up for another round of shoe donations later in 2011.
Donations made in August and September 2011 include to Ejit Elementary School, Rairok Elementary School and to KIJLE.
• Ejit Island in Majuro is the home to many of the displaced Bikini Islanders. KBE Mayor Alson Kelen, Ejit Elementary school principal Wilma Rubon, Dartmouth program teachers Louise Vanden Bosch and Cassandra Cooper, teacher Benny Kelen and students came out for the donation of shoes and socks.
MIBF Vice President for Women’s Development Suzanne Chutaro spoke to the students, teachers and administrators about MIBF’s effort to encourage girls to play basketball, and explained that this is an “equipment” donation to the school. In the same way that a school provides a basketball for practice, then puts it away after the practice, so too the shoes belong to the school, not the individual students. In this way, MIBF hopes the donation will have a long-lasting impact on supporting the school’s sports program.
• Rairok Elementary School is one of two Majuro elementary schools that are participating in an MIBF pilot project to develop coaching capacity of the sports coordinators/teachers who coach basketball teams, while also improving playing levels of boys and girls. Rairok and Delap Elementary School are the two schools involved in the pilot project that involves National Basketball Development Officer Mouj Lewi conducting clinics daily in alternating weeks for the two schools over a six-week period. The idea is that he works with the coaches/players daily at Rairok for the first week, then shifts to do the same thing at DES for the second week. Meanwhile, it allows the Rairok coaches a week to continue the training program themselves. Then Mouj will return the third week to another week of clinics at Rairok, and so on. Depending on the result of the pilot project, it may be rolled out to other schools.
On the first day of the Rairok basketball clinic pilot project, Mouj delivered a shoe donation to Rairok school sports coordinator Rickiano Antibas and students at the school. Mouj and Rickiano are working together to run the basketball clinics for both boys and girls during August and September.
• On September 1, MIBF board member Robert Pinho presented adult size sports shoes to KIJLE Director Lydia Tibon and KIJLE staff. KIJLE is one of the Marshall Islands’ active non-profits that organizes regular walk-a-thons, weight loss competitions and health promotion aimed at reducing diabetes and other lifestyle illnesses particularly focused on women and girls. KIJLE will share the shoes with women and girls involved in the many exercise-related programs it runs.