From Ohio to Haiti: Service learning with GOALS and Hastings Middle School

At GOALS, there's many reasons why we use soccer as a tool to spark long-term change in rural Haiti. Besides providing access to areas which lack both infrastructure and community programs, sport is effective at increasing gender equality and developing leadership, teaches life skills and critical health lessons right on the soccer field, and provides hope and opportunities for children who need it most.

Another reason why we love soccer? As a universal language, it provides a great way for children around the world to get involved and make a difference!

Students at Hastings Middle School, in Columbus, Ohio, for example, recently conducted a service learning project about Haiti with their French teacher, Miss Kelly. After researching the language, culture and history of Haiti, students chose to raise donations of soccer balls to send to GOALS.

Clockwise, from top left: Students show off the One World Futbols they've raised; Presenting their Power of Play project to the entire school; Testing out the One World Futbols at a fundraising match; More French students from Hastings Middle School in Upper Arlington, Columbus, OH.

I'll let one fourteen year old student tell you all about their experience:
A Difference, by a Hastings Middle School student from Columbus, Ohio

The Haiti Service Learning Project definitely was something that changed my view of the world. When I first heard that we would be doing something to help Haiti, I thought to myself, that’s likely to ever happen, like they need our help.

But then we started the research.

My group was assigned to make a video clip about the conditions in Haiti. At first glance, I assumed that we’d be able to blow our project off and just come away with some sort of scrap material. I was convinced that Haiti needed no help whatsoever...But as I scrolled through the pictures, I began to see that that wasn’t true at all. It wasn’t always safe there, the streets were filled with junk, there was nowhere that even grass could grow because the ground was a mass of rubble and houses stood only partially built.

I was stunned. I felt like I was almost always right...But this time, I’d been horribly mistaken. Haiti really did need help.

While gathering information on Haiti’s conditions, I also learned about One World Futbol, and what they were doing. Children in Haiti were being given balls to play soccer with, because soccer was one of their ways of staying happy and fit even in a home that was in such poor condition. In pictures showing children playing soccer before they were given the indestructible balls by One World Futbol, I saw deflated soccer balls, balls made from trash, and balls that had been stuffed full of plant material and tied back together with a string. Balls that never lasted more than one game.

But One World Futbol has been changing that, one ball at a time. They’ve been donating soccer balls to help the children of Haiti keep on playing soccer with balls that can’t be broken or deflated, balls that will last for hundreds of soccer games instead of just one.

Seeing what One World Futbol and GOALS Haiti were doing made me want to do something to help out. If an organization such as this one was making such a huge impact on people in need, then I wanted to do what I could to help. This was a way in which I could help, a way in which I could make a difference.

I definitely feel like I did make a difference in this project. I learned so much, and now I can pass that knowledge on to other people. Also, working on the project is helping my class be able to spread awareness and raise money to donate to One World Futbol and GOALS Haiti. Even if we just raise enough to donate one ball - one ball - I know that we will make a huge difference.

And I’m proud of that. I gained a lot of empathy and knowledge from this project, and I hope that everyone else did, too. I know that everything we did for this project will stick with me forever. And I’m happy that it will. I know that I’m helping to make a difference in the world, and that feeling is like no other.

A huge thank you to the student who wrote this, to all the students who participated in the project and their friends and families who supported them, and especially to Miss Kelly, who is clearly an incredible teacher! Here's what she had to say about the project:

Is play important? Why?
8th grade French students at Hastings Middle School have been asking themselves and others these questions while working on a service learning project to raise awareness about the power of play.

In discovering more about the Francophone country of Haiti and about the difficulties that impede play opportunities in poverty-stricken countries like Haiti, we were able to get a glimpse into what life might really be like in a world where play opportunities are limited.
What we realized made us want to help!

The Hastings Middle School French students raised 44 soccer balls through One World Play Project to donate to GOALS, and enough money to pay the shipping costs!

If you're a teacher looking for a creative service learning project, or you need a project for your Bar Mitzvah, Bat Mitzvah, Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts, senior service project or any other community service requirements, you can learn more about how to collect new or gently used to donate to GOALS kids in Haiti here, or send us an email to get in touch!

Curious how the students' video project about Haiti turned out? Here it is!