I never win contests. Let me rephrase that: I never win contests for myself. But if I enter a contest with someone else in mind, it is uncanny how often I win! It became a challenge that my family supported wholeheartedly when we realized how much we could benefit those who work with special populations. Not only contests, but simply asking people to help others help themselves is often met with donations of items that families no longer need but would be of great benefit to our community.
This all started innocently enough. I love to craft and saw a contest from a company that sold craft materials. Create a Pinterest Board Wishlist from their catalog, and they would choose one board and send the items pinned. As I looked at the items, I noticed they had a lot of craft kits that would be of great use in my son's SLC classroom at the time. While teachers are provided materials needed to teach, arts and crafts are a great way to teach following directions, fine motor skills, and speech. Before I knew it, I had loads of things pinned to send to my son's classroom and decided to remove the 2 items I had added for myself. In the event that I won, I told myself, I would let the company know that the items were going to be donated to our elementary school special education department.
A few weeks later, I was informed that I had won. When I responded with my plan and the school address where they could mail the winning items, they doubled and tripled what I had pinned and sent so much that the whole school was able to share the materials. Furthermore, they created a blog post complete with photos of our teachers excitedly opening their packages!
Since that time, I have won several contests and sent the winnings to therapy providers, local organizations and other schools as well. My favorite win to date was after watching an episode of Shark Tank where the Qball was introduced. Everyone else saw ways that the invention could be used in the business world. I saw a product that would help those with hearing loss, ADHD and other concerns in the classroom pay attention and hear other students' contributions. I also saw a product that would help SLPs encourage vocalizations from students who were reluctant to speak. As I logged onto their website, there was a contest! Share your own (embarrasing) video link with your friends and the Qball website and see how many shares you could accrue by sharing with others.
Let's face it. I taught for 12 years and have a lot of former students as my friends on social media. Plus I have a lot of teacher friends where we live now and a HUGE special needs village! They clicked and shared my link from here to Minnesota and all points in between. We were at the state band competition in San Antonio (Go Wakeland Band!!!) when the live Facebook announcement was made. I won 10 Qballs and the inventor flew in to help us deliver them to schools and set them up in classrooms. We even did an inventor presentation at the Career and Technical Education Center. It was an amazing day!
Know of a contest that could benefit classrooms or nonprofits? Tell us about it! We are always happy to share teacher wistlists on this website, social media or even create one of our own. Of course we share the winnings in a way that benefit our population directly!
Find creative ways to enhance your child's classroom experience by thinking outside of the box. Not only can it allow access to new experiences and materials, it is a great morale boost to the teachers and service providers who can put the winning items to creative new educational uses.