Did you play sports as a child? What was your favorite?
For Jaara, it’s volleyball.
“I love playing volleyball because I learn a lot from this sport,” Jaara, a sixth grader from Maguindanao, said in Filipino. “Such as self-discipline, focus, respect, and teamwork.”
The 13-year-old says she applies whatever she learns from the sport to her schooling and her daily life.
Just like in the field, Jaara maintains her focus in class. Her favorite subject is math, and she dreams of becoming a teacher someday.
“So I can teach children how to read and write, and also to teach them good manners,” she explained. “Someday, I want to teach here in our school.”
While some parents might be worried that extracurricular activities like sports may distract children from their studies, Jaara’s teachers have observed that volleyball has really helped girls like Jaara to express themselves, to socialize, and to take on leadership roles.
Jaara sees sports not as a distraction, but as something complements her drive to do her best in whatever she does.
Like a true athlete, she also says that winning isn’t everything – what matters is she tried, had fun, and learned from the experience.
Aside from sports, Jaara also advocates against bullying.
“When there’s bullying, there’s fighting. I tell my classmates not to bully others,” shares Jaara. “Bullying can affect children’s thinking and their studies.”
“We should respect our elders, but we should also respect our fellow children,” she added. “Because when we give respect to children, we receive respect in return.”
She also reminds girls that they can do whatever boys can do, "we are equals."
Jaara’s school is part of our Spaces for Peace Project, which aims to protect and empower children living in areas affected by armed conflict.
Save the Children’s goal is to allow children to freely and safely learn, dream, and play. The project also trains children and teachers on their rights and responsibilities.
Jaara and her classmates are not alone.
For years, several children in Mindanao – including those from Maguindanao like Jaara – have witnessed or directly experienced armed conflict.
We don’t want these children to grow up, thinking that conflict and violence are the norm. These children deserve to enjoy their childhoods, free from worry and fear.
Together, let’s empower children through education. Protect them today, ensure their tomorrow.
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