Those best qualified to answer are the children. So we asked. Their candid and heart-warming response gives inspiration and keeps us focused on our goals.
SPCC was invited by the Cebu City Task Force for Children to send in kids for the second HighFiveHope Sportsfest. Arambano and his friends were sent in to be trained on the fundamentals of basketball.
Never did Arambano know that his love for playing the sport will bring him into an attractive opportunity after he was recruited by the University of Cebu Coach Caleb Gawangon to join his team’s lineup.
“He has the potential and height at his age,” Gawangon said.
At 13 and, being among children at risk, he was able to get a chance to train with UC’s 14-Under team Pasaril which Gawangon coaches. “Proud kaayo ko sa akong kaugalingon na naapil ko nila. Nakatuon kog depensa, unsaon ang pagtarong og itsa na dili ray ikaw gadula,” Arambano said. Arambano, a point guard, started training with the team last week and was recommended for a scholarship by Gawangon.
On their second year, HighFiveHope not only catered to street children but also to children from Cebu in conflict with the law. The kids are staying at the Operation Second Chance Center. Caught in situations where they had violated the law, these children may have been expected to be showing off their aggressive personalities while being trained. Contrary to this belief, the motivation to play sports resulted in a change of behavior among them. Anyone caught breaking the rules is banned from playing. The policy has encouraged the kids to follow the house rules. Aside from that, most of them also voluntarily surrendered their hidden arms and weapons as they were afraid of getting caught and not being able to play. They also played in high spirits and were practicing sportsmanship. While observing the kids’ clinics, a former inmate narrated how he was able to get a high school certificate and is now currently pursuing studies in college. “It’s not easy but I’m sticking to it,” he said.
Operation Second Chance is working on changing the system. Located in near the City and Provincial jails in the hills of Cebu, Operation Second Chance houses over 100 children aged 15-17 who are in conflict with the law. Make no mistake, this is a jail – complete with bars and locks but the goal here is rehabilitation. Operation Second Chance provides job training, structure and teaches the children about respect for themselves and others.
High Five Hope has brought the Hope Festival to Operation Second Chance. Children are given the opportunity to participate in a basketball tournament within the jail similar to the children on the street. High Five Hope provides them with uniforms, shoes, socks and basketballs. And, just like the children on the street, the inmates pledge to be drug-free, violence-free and play in a fair and respectful manner. The excitement within the facility led to a voluntary weapons surrender by the inmates; if they were caught with a weapon they would not be able to participate in the tournament. The kids played hard and when the season came to a close the children asked if they could continue on their own, their pride and self-esteem had grown immensely.
After the tournament and all-star team was formed. High Five Hope, Operation Second Chance and the Cebu City Task Force for Street Children jointly requested a temporary release of the all-star team for participation in a final game against the all-stars of Cebu City street children. The request was granted and we’re happy to report the teams played with honor and dignity, demonstrating a level of sportsmanship that could only be hoped for.
“We were very pleased with the High Five Hope program at Op Second Chance, it made a real, positive impact into the lives of these boys – and I am very excited to include it as part of our rehabilitation program going forward. It makes a difference in so many ways.” Merlina Metante, Warden of Operation Second Chance.