Making soccer balls breaks barriers

Differences abound between the U.S. and Uganda. Clean water vs. dirty, paved roads vs. dirt, full bellies vs. empty, soccer vs. futball. It’s difficult for young minds to comprehend, as well as old. Creating soccer balls from used plastic bags and string – helped students at St. Andrew School in Chicago bridge the gap.

Junior Kindergarten teacher, Paula Thivierge, found a website that inspired the activity. Just like children in Uganda, local students made and played with balls constructed from recycled materials, inspiring fun and new ways of thinking.

“In teaching our students how Ugandan children make soccer balls, we are making connections between our two cultures and countries. These children are very resourceful with what little they have. It reinforces how fortunate our children are and the value of service towards others,” said Thivierge.

“The project was an eye-opening experience for both the children and parents of Saint Andrew. Giving the kids an opportunity to make soccer balls and talk about Uganda was a great example of how the children in Uganda maximize the use of their sometimes, limited resources.  It gave our children pause to consider how we too can be better at conserving and reusing materials. We are very fortunate for the resources and opportunities we have here and this soccer ball-making project gave our children a chance to see this firsthand in a very tangible way that they could appreciate,” said parent, Lynne Christopher.

During our 2016 trip, members of One Heart Uganda outfitted several Central Uganda schools with futballs, netballs, volleyballs, nets and goals.  They shared the joy of playing together and left behind sports equipment and fields to be enjoyed long after the visit.

This summer, another group of volunteers will return to the area to visit our scholarship students.  Thivierge will be among a group of teachers joining the mission – breaking barriers and creating bridges of understanding and empathy for her students through shared experience.