A team of West Elementary School fifth-graders spent Good Friday doing something great.
As part of Destination Imagination, a global program that encourages kids to incorporate science, technology, engineering and math into a variety of arts and service-learning tasks, Team Helping Everyone Receive Opportunities for Sports, or HEROS, chose to share their love of sports with others less fortunate.
As part of DI’s Project Outreach Challenge, Jackson McCarthy, Rawson Iwanicki, Sam Dougherty, Brendan Gruenberg and Miles Fraser worked with their coach, Kerrie Fraser, to collect used sports equipment from the Andover community. After more than five months of collecting, the team, minus Jackson who was on vacation, brought 175 pieces of sports equipment to children in pre-kindergarten through second grade at Hennessey Elementary School in Lawrence.
The donated equipment included everything from hula hoops and soccer balls, to footballs and Frisbees, to scooter boards and athletic pinnies.
“This is amazing,” the school’s physical education teacher Marrissa Wolfe said. “Their favorite thing right now is scooter boards; they brought us 12. We only had three before, and one broke.”
Wolfe was having her students share the boards, which look like a food tray with wheels, during class relay races. But now, she said, they can each use one.
The boards were donated by the West Elementary School Physical Education Department.
“Everything else came from people around town in Andover, who just had some extra stuff,” Fraser said. “A lot of kids get a new ball every season, so we’d get the old ones — though there was nothing wrong with them. We got a lot of great stuff. It was amazing.”
Wolfe said that because of the high price of athletic pinnies, the school has gone without them. When they would break up into teams during games, it was tough to differentiate one team from another, as each student had on his or her white uniform.
“I think it’s cool that these were older kids who were coming to hang out and play with the younger kids,” Fraser said. “That was great. I think it’s incredible that these kids are so mature; they’re in fifth grade, you know?
“My kids were just like, ‘What! This is all for us?’ They were shocked.”
After winning the top spot at DI’s Regional Tournament last month, Team HEROS advanced to the State Competition held at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. The team finished fourth at states — ending its run for 2015. But for now, the students are just proud of what they accomplished.
“We just realize how fortunate we are to have a lot of gym stuff and we wanted to give these kids what we have,” said 11-year-old Dougherty. “And I think we did a pretty good job.”
Rawson, 10, echoed the point, saying, “It made me feel like I did something good to help them. It made me feel good.”