OCEAN CITY — Underprivileged children in Pasajoc, a small village in Guatamala, have been given the opportunity to enjoy sports that have never been available to them before, thanks in large part of students at several local schools.
Under the direction of the National Alliance for Youth Sports (NAYS), the Sammy Wilkinson Memorial Foundation’s Global Gear Drive, an effort to collect new and used sporting goods from in and around the resort area to send to less fortunate children around the world, continued its remarkable run of success recently with a shipment to Pasajoc, a remote village in Guatamala. Young athletes in Guatamala have much-needed shipments of sports equipment through the efforts of students at Stephen Decatur High School, Stephen Decatur Middle, Ocean City Elementary, Berlin Intermediate, Showell Elementary and Worcester Prep.
Sammy Wilkinson died tragically when he fell through the ice at a frozen pond at Northside Park over a decade ago. The Sammy Wilkinson Foundation dedicated in his name has achieved remarkable results in tiny outposts around the world where children don’t have the same opportunities as local kids do.
To that end, for years the Sammy Foundation’s Global Gear Drive has been successful in collecting tons of new and used sports equipment from local schools and shipping it to underprivileged young athletes around the world. Under the direction of NAYS, founded and operated by Sammy’s grandfather Fred Engh, children in countries such as Zambia and Morocco, and now Guatamala, have received over 500,000 pounds of sports equipment donated and collected in the local area.
NAYS identifies communities in need and then works with interested groups and individuals throughout the local area and around the U.S. that are interested in being a sponsor for that community and collecting sports equipment to fulfill their specific needs. The Sammy Foundation, through NAYS, identified Pasajoc in Guatamala as a community in need through its One World, One Team initiative and students at local schools then picked up the ball, so to speak. The young athletes in Guatamala recently sent letters of thanks to the Ocean City area students, as well as handmade artwork and a framed certificate, acknowledging how appreciative they are of the equipment they received and the difference it has made in their lives.
“These contributions have helped a great deal in my efforts to improve youth sports in my respective communities,” said Keisha Herbert, a teacher at a school in Pasajoc. “Now, students are learning new athletic skills and new sports and they are learning a plethora of life skills relating to leadership, effective peer communication, teamwork, goals and self-esteem. The students are putting in practice a variety of team-building skills along with improved peer communication through the sports of basketball, baseball, football, tennis and volleyball.”
The equipment sent to Pasajoc has also been shared with students in two neighboring villages, Chuicruz and Caserio La Libertad. NAYS officials praised the Ocean City area students who contributed.
“All of the Ocean City students who took part in collecting sports gear for those less fortunate should be extremely proud of their efforts,” said NAYS director of International Relations Cindy Daub. “When they read these heartfelt notes from children in another country who they have never met, they will see what a huge difference they have made in their lives, all through the power of sports.”