The School Newspaper of Winston Churchill High School.

The Observer

The School Newspaper of Winston Churchill High School.

The Observer

The School Newspaper of Winston Churchill High School.

The Observer

WCHS club steps towards sports equity

Photo courtesy of Laura Jablonover
WCHS students Laura Jablonover (left) and Kaylee Tasin (right) stand next to the Project Happy Feet donation box in WCHS. This donation box is near the main office and accepts shoes along with other sports equipment.

In a town where one-million-dollar houses are the norm, WCHS students are not often exposed to underprivileged communities. It is hard to imagine that a few miles away, people are struggling day to day to afford simple necessities. Recently, WCHS junior Laura Jablonover became exposed to impoverished areas near Potomac, Md. and was inspired to begin Project Happy Feet.

“I started my club because when doing a summer program in DC; I realized that many students living in certain areas don’t get the same opportunities that I do to play sports in school,” Jablonover said. “I really wanted everyone to have the same options that I do to be able to participate in any sport that they want to during their school year.”

As a track and field athlete and a former field hockey player, Jablonover appreciates the different chances she has to enjoy her sports at WCHS. To fix this inequality of opportunity, Jablonover began to spread awareness.

“I originally heard about Happy Feet when I donated my running shoes this summer,” WCHS junior and Project Happy Feet officer Noor Aly said. “As an athlete myself, I think sports can be such a valuable connection to friendships and fun, and I want that to be accessible to as many people as possible!”

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According to Global Sports Matters, not only do sports allow teenagers to develop close bonds with their peers, but they are also linked to higher levels of self-esteem and social support and lower levels of depression, loneliness, and fatalism. Unfortunately, as noted by Jablonover, many people in Maryland are unable to afford basic wants. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, in Maryland, five percent of households have average incomes that are 11.7 times as large as the bottom 20 percent of households.

“There is a large inequality in the distribution of wealth throughout Maryland,” Aly said. “This means many students do not have equal access to sports equipment, which inspired Happy Feet to increase its level of access.”

At first, the organization’s method of communication was through social media. Once school began, Jablonover assembled a team of officers and ambassadors in order to spread awareness and help her set up boxes to donate shoes.

“So far, we’ve put donation boxes into three MCPS schools, several local community centers and other sports locations nearby,” Aly said. “We have had plenty of donations over the summer, as well as many in our local schools. There has been a wonderful [community] response, with MocoShow and the Cabin John Village Newsletter reaching out for article coverage. Many students showed their support by donating at our recent bake sale. We are hoping to expand throughout Maryland in order to help as many students as we can.”

Project Happy Feet has increased its level of impact from just WCHS all the way to Maryland Sportsplex, a training facility, and more. Jablonover’s ambitions for her organization have inflated as Project Happy Feet reaches county-wide.

“Our goal is to be able to support all schools who really need it, not just in the DC area but to expand nationally,” Jablonover said. “We want to get more publicity so we [can] raise awareness about student-athletes in lower income areas and make a difference one shoe at a time.”


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About the Contributor
Clara Young
Clara Young, Copy Editor
Clara Young is a WCHS senior and the Copy Editor for The Observer. This is her third year taking journalism. During her free time away from The Observer, Clara is usually at her soccer practice or reading a book. She loves spending time with her friends and watching horror movies.

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