Summer CSGC Grant Update: Let’s Get Moving!

Over the course of my project, I had the opportunity to run PE lessons at St. Patrick’s School, a local elementary school in Hong Kong, by teaching the students soccer. During Covid-19, Hong Kong experienced one of the world’s strictest social restrictions and COVID policies. Elementary school students have been deprived from running around outdoors for three years of their childhood, which is compounded with the stress society places on academics at a young age and how limited opportunities children can get outdoors even without the pandemic. Due to the above, my goal was to get elementary school students moving again and show them the joy of outdoor activities through my passion for soccer.

Together with a friend I recruited, I conducted 27 lessons in total teaching students ranging from first to sixth grade, including organizing grade-wide soccer sessions for each of first and second grades. Throughout my project, I not only gained valuable experience serving the community, but also insight into how to run PE classes for 20-30 students, how to organize activities that suit each grade level, and how to simplify them so they suit a beginners’ level and allow for easy setting up given the short turnaround time during water breaks and the five minute transition
between lessons.

During my time at St. Patrick’s School, I saw the stark difference between the Hong Kong and American education system. The emphasis on academics and discipline even at such a young age was immense. Even though it was a PE lesson – a chance for students to finally run around – academics still surrounded them. The teachers supervising the class might ask how a student did on an exam or tell them they performed well. Furthermore, I saw a gender imbalance among the eagerness between girls and boys to play soccer, similar to what I experienced growing up in Hong Kong. In the entire school, there was only one girl who played soccer outside of school, compared to a bunch of boys who either played on the school team or for fun. It made me reflect on the women’s participation in sports in Hong Kong, and motivated me to further research on and explore this topic.

It was very exciting and fulfilling to see the happy smiles on the students’ faces and their never ending energy during the lessons. Even though most of them do not have experience playing soccer, their commitment and concentration when dribbling through the cones astounded me. I loved jumping in with them to play soccer, as it reminded me of my elementary school years at local school and how much we cherished the small allotment of time for PE lessons to run around. I left the school with a lot of memories, but two moments particularly stuck out to me.

While teaching a class that I also taught last summer, the students recognized me and remembered what I taught last year. On another occasion, a student told me “See you next summer” as he was going back to class. Both these heartwarming episodes reminded me of the impacts one can bring on her community even in a short time, which leave me immensely motivated to do more.

I was able to use the CSGC grant to help the school buy additional soccer equipment and two soccer goals, which would enable them to practice on campus with actual goals instead of having to walk to a nearby park. I also ordered wristbands for each student with the phrase “Let’s Get Moving” as an inspiration and reminder for them, as I knew how much kids love wearing these colorful accessories on them.

I am forever grateful to St. Patrick’s School, their principal, and their PE teacher who helped me coordinate the logistics. It has been an unforgettable experience and I hope to continue spreading the joy of sports to children studying in local schools in Hong Kong.

-Abigail ’25