#TatakboPH: Teacher runs to bring toys to kids

David Lozada
After running from Manila to Zamboanga for a month, ultra-runner Mac Milan launches a toy library for kids with special needs

WARM WELCOME. Kids from St. Francis School VSA give a dance presentation for the guests at the opening of their toy library. All photos by David Lozada/ Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Ultra-runner Mac Milan ran across the Philippines to promote his life advocacy – equal education opportunities for all children. After running from Manila to Zamboanga for a month, collecting books and toys along the way, Milan on Friday, January 24, launched araLaruan, a toy library for kids with special needs in St. Francis School, Quezon City.

Milan said the toy library is an embodiment of his educational philosophy.

“We believe that playing is a good learning method for kids. School should be fun and not so stressful. When children are with toys, they’re not so stressed. It’s also therapeutic,” Milan said.

The toy library in St. Francis is open to the public. Any child can come in and play with the toys.

 

HAPPY RUNNER. Mac Milan plans to make more projects for out-of-school children

Hard journey

A former gradeschool teacher, Milan said he got to see the real state of Philippine education when he ran from Davao to Manila for the first time. Seeing the plight of child laborers across the country made him realize what he really wanted to do.

“I realized it’s not enought for me to stay in the classroom for the students. I have the responsibility to reach out to children, especially those not given enough opportunity to have classrooms and go to schools,” Milan earlier said.

He initiated Tatakbo Pilipinas, an advocacy run that aims to raise awareness on education and distribute a million books and toys to underprivileged children, on September 2013. (Read: #TatakboPH: Ultra-runner runs for education)

Milan admitted the run was more difficult than he expected, especially because of the many natural disasters that seemed to follow him wherever he ran. 

“Every time I pass by a province, a low pressure area appears (LPA). When I passed by Cebu, the earthquake happened. After I passed by Visayas, Yolanda happened,” Milan joked.

But Milan said the best part of his run was the different advocacy campaigns he joined in each stop.

“I met and taught kids from different parts of the country – Batangas, Aklan, Antique, Cebu, Dumaguete, Bacolod, Dapitan, Zamboanga. I also joined the relief and retrieval operations in Bohol and the rebuilding in Tacloban,” Milan added.

Milan plans to build more toy libraries in schools and hospitals in Bulacan, Batangas, Bohol, and Tacloban. (Missed Mac’s run? Read about what happened in our live blog: Mac Milan runs across the Philippines)

 

LEARNING BY PLAYING. Some of  the toys inside the toy library.

New approach in education

The children in St. Francis welcomed their new toys with much excitement. St. Francis executive directress Rebecca Santos said araLaruan is a promising project. 

“We are trying to change the approach to (teaching) our children. Most of them are making use of the computer in playing. A toy library will make them go into the basic step by step of learning,” Santos said.

Santos added that playing toys is also very important for children with disabilities.

“The toys they use will help them improve their speech and language development. This toy library is very beneficial for them. The project will also help other institutions and communities without books and toys to appreciate playing with intended lessons and directions,” she said.

Long road ahead

Milan is set to run around the world in December 2014 as part of his advocacy campaign. In the meantime, he has many projects in mind for the children he met.

He recently partnered with the Philippine Toy Library for the other toy libraries he plans to build. He is also working with Museo Pambata to bring a thousand children to the children’s museum.

Lastly, Milan plans to raise money to give cochlear implants  surgically implanted electronic devices that help the partially deaf to hear – to 10 indigent kids with hearing disabilities. Each implant costs around P1 million.

Santos said Milan is “heaven-sent” for the kids. She said he’s become a role model for the school.

“We will be making noise about these advocacies. These projects will serve as models and will certainly be talked about,” Santos said.

Milan said his inspiration comes from the many Filipino children he met who experience poverty. He said he will continue to create projects that will help children achieve their dreams.

“Everyone has the responsibility of making each other’s dream come true,” he added. – Rappler.com

 

Those interested to donate toys and cash for the toy libraries that Mac Milan and St. Francis School will build may contact Mac Milan (09275867780) or Rebecca Santos (712-3731, 4578957, 09324141466). You can also send them an e-mail at cenen_mac@yahoo.com or sfs_vsap@hotmail.com.