After volunteering at a summer reading camp this past summer at Freedom Intermediate School, 22-year-old Franklin resident and University of Tennessee senior, Jim French, decided he would take his love of sports and turn it into a mission to help teachers. French’s summer experience with Gentry Education Foundation in Franklin Special School District provided him with insight that he had never had before about how school supplies, like recess equipment, are funded many times out of the pockets of teachers.
“After doing some research, I found out that many teachers spend in excess of their small stipends every year to provide equipment for their students. As a result, students often have to play with equipment that is old and past the point of practical use and teachers feel the financial pressures of replacing the equipment from their personal incomes,” French said.
That knowledge started the proverbial ball rolling for French, who is determined to help as many teachers as he can equip their classrooms with resources for play. “I played sports growing up at Battle Ground Academy and I now recognize the positive impact it has had on me. I am seeing the social and health benefits even though I graduated from high school over 3 and a half years ago,” he said. “Seeing the positive impact that being active and social has on students was a significant motivation in my founding of Resources 4 Recess. In providing high quality equipment, we are trying to encourage students to use the equipment as a way to meet and play with other kids in a naturally cooperative play environment like recess.”
Before heading back to college in the fall, French went about the daunting task of setting up a tax exempt non-profit so he could begin soliciting donations through the organization on behalf of the school district. “Filing the federal and state forms required to obtain 501(c)(3) status was not a quick task,” he said. “Donations primarily came from friends and family because we knew that until we had evidence of what we are trying to achieve, it would be difficult to convince others to donate to our cause.”
After weeks of cold calls to friends and family, along with similar efforts by his young Board of Directors, Resources 4 Recess was able to buy $3,500 worth of high quality recess equipment like playground balls, footballs, soccer balls, frisbees, jump ropes and a small pump to re-inflate the equipment. All of this was sorted at French’s home into classroom friendly mesh bags so a teacher or student can grab it on the way out to recess. A surprise visit to the school this week by French and his Board, left many teachers and students alike with smiles. Bags were plied open and games of football, four-square and soccer ensued on the sprawling front lawn at Freedom Intermediate.
Freedom Intermediate School Principal Dr. Joel Hoag, expressed gratitude for French’s efforts to lift the financial burden off his teachers with the donated equipment. “We are extremely appreciative of Resources 4 Recess’s support of Freedom Intermediate School,” Hoag said. “Their efforts to provide a variety of sports equipment helps students engage in forming healthy lifestyle habits while allowing teachers to put their resources towards academic and other classroom needs. Resources 4 Recess has identified a niche need that makes a tremendous difference.”
French hopes to take his organization’s mission district-wide, but would like to connect with like-minded businesses and to raise the funds necessary to meet every teacher’s need. “We would like to remove any need for teachers to spend personal money on the purchasing of equipment for their students. My hopes are that with more people becoming aware of our mission, and what we are trying to accomplish, we will be able to reach more schools,” he said. “Going forward, we are looking to acquire corporate sponsors for individual schools. This sponsorship will connect local businesses to the schools in their community and allow us to reach more schools at a faster rate.”
Board members helping French spread his mission include Bailey Reese, Braxton Kinney, Crockett Daniel (all BGA graduates), and Wren McFadden, a Franklin High School graduate.
If an individual or a local businesses would like to connect with Resources 4 Recess, please visit them online at www.resources4recess.org and donate or fill out a corporate sponsorship form.