Students organize mission to build sports courts in the Dominican Republic

Two WSU students are taking an open group to the Dominican Republic to build sports courts for children.  

Meg Spiegelberg, a freshman hospitality business management major and Kappa Kappa Gamma member, and Moira Culkin, a freshman marketing major and Delta Gamma member, are working with the Vancouver, WA non-profit Courts for Kids in planning an eight day trip to the Dominican Republic.

Spiegelberg and Culkin are trying to commit at least 20 students by summer break so they can plan the logistics of the trip, planned for next winter break.

Derek Nesland, founder and CEO of Courts for Kids said he started this non-profit because sports are universal for children around the world.

“We have found that there are communities throughout the world who have a top priority of creating a safe space for their kids to play sports,” Nesland said. “Even the poorest communities in the world have children who are creating their own opportunities to play sports, most often with a handmade ‘ball’ of some sort.”

Volunteers will be able to interact with the community where they are building the court, Culkin said.

“These trips are most significant if both groups take on an equal status relationship, work together on a common problem or task and develop opportunities to get to know each other as friends,” said Nesland.

Spiegelberg, Culkin and Courts for Kids are partnering to make a difference by raising enough money for a basketball court for a community.

“To build the basketball court, it will cost $10,000,” Culkin said. “Courts for Kids covers half, and we will fundraise the other $5000.”

To fundraise, Culkin, Spiegelberg, and the other volunteers plan to write letters asking for donations that will be tax deductible, said Speigelberg.

Volunteers who commit to going need to turn in a $400 deposit by the end of the school year.

This trip is open to both Greek and non-Greek students.

“Pretty much anybody can go,” Spiegelberg said.

The Dominican Republic was selected for this trip out of many locations around the world because it was seen as less costly, giving an opportunity for more students to volunteer, Culkin said.

“The more students who go, the cheaper it is for everybody,” Spiegelberg said.

With 25 students, it costs $1900 per person, Speigelberg said.

Included in the costs are the plane tickets, food, lodging, transportation, and insurance. Gifts and souvenirs are not covered, Spiegelberg said.

With the help of a lead and two chaperones, Spiegelberg and Culkin want to have a mix of men and women so they can contribute as much as possible to help the children in the community.

“(Courts for Kids) brings in the cement and we do all the manual labor ourselves. We want to have lots of boys to do the heavy work,” said Spiegelberg.

Volunteers who go on the trip will also be given at least 50 hours of community service through CCE when they come back.

Culkin wants students to have the experience of living the way other people do and really open their eyes to new things, she said.

“I want people to realize how blessed (they) are because (everybody) gets caught up in their own lives to actually notice that there are people who aren’t as fortunate as us in the world,” Spiegelberg said.

More information is available on the Facebook group page, WSU Courts for Kids.