The Amazing Race


[24 SEP 2016] Starting at 9AM on a Saturday morning, we all met at Pandoo Foundation’s Sports and Leadership Program in Genesis Valley (Cebu, Philippines). Led by Lisa Stevens, five Pandoo character-themed teams of ten young female volleyball players assembled for a day of leadership activities. The players, aged 13 to 14, were challenged to improve their teamwork skills, by participating in problem solving stations around the venue.


In a format called “The Amazing Race” (set up by 2XPLORE), each team faced different gamified challenges to spark various forms of team skills. My station was "Stick It Up", which involved stacking hexagonal nuts on a number of hand-held paddles simultaneously. Not only was it incredibly difficult to get one column built, but the team had to reach the same stack height on each paddle at the same time.


As a volunteer, it was my first time to see these girls in action and I was inspired by how they attacked the challenge in different ways. It quickly became obvious who the more outspoken team members were, but at the same time, which ones were more patient and demonstrated perseverance.

To up their score, teams could add an extra nut to each stack, which was another dimension of difficulty. Only one team managed to do this out of the five. The successful team was by far the most vocal and encouraging. Shouting out their building progress and tending to the needs of other team members. It reminded me of how working together can help achieve a higher goal.

At the completion of the challenge, each team shared with us what they learned. Amongst the shaking arms from the paddle holders and jubilance from the teams having reached the targets, the girls had a genuine look of surprise that communication, focus and time management were all skills needed to improve their teamwork. I felt privileged to have been able to witness this learning opportunity and to see in real time the impact that Pandoo’s educational values could have on these kids.

Acquiring these life-skills will prove invaluable in all aspects of their lives. These are attributes we look for in our recruiting process at ShiftRunner. Over the coming months, we will be building a new development team here in Cebu for the future expansion of our game Pandoo Nation. As part of our daily routine, we use an “agile” development process, which includes a “stand-up” meeting. Being confident in sharing with your team, highlighting any challenges and offering to assist each other where needed are essential skills. After witnessing the leadership potential in the children engaged at Pandoo, I feel more confident and excited that we will be able to build an amazing task force for ShiftRunner now in Cebu.

It was an incredible day which culminated with the whole community coming together to talk about what they learned and share from each team’s perspective - what worked and what didn’t. Amid smiles and laughter, the girls and coaches stood amongst their peers sharing their ups and downs throughout the day. It is for this reason that I believe the Pandoo Foundation Sports & Leadership program is so successful in making a difference in the lives of others. The skills developed through leadership activities will make them a better team and more competitive in their weekly volleyball competitions, but most importantly, better citizens and more competitive leaders in their everyday lives.