Olympian Lends a Hand

U.S. Olympian Tina Charles funds the building of a school in Africa

July 26, 2012
By Abby Lieberman
Children in Ganale express their gratitude for Tina Charles and buildOn as they stand in front of their new school building.

Basketball pro Tina Charles grew up understanding the importance of education and of giving back to others. When the WNBA star and the 2012 US Olympic Women’s Basketball team athlete heard about the chance to fund a school in an African village, she made sure to take part.

Charles first came across the opportunity while she was a sophomore in college. At that time, she didn’t have the funds to help out, but all of that changed when she was drafted to the WNBA. With the help of two charitable organizations—OmniPeace and buildOn—Charles funded the entire $32,000 cost of the school.

Tina Charles wears #14 for the US Women’s Senior National Team as she looks for a teammate in a game on July 16th, 2012.

Tina Charles wears #14 for the US Women’s Senior National Team as she looks for a teammate in a game on July 16th, 2012.

The Before and After

The school, completed earlier this spring, was built in the small village of Ganale in western Africa. Before Charles’ contributions, children living in the village were schooled in tiny mud huts. The lack of proper lighting and of proper airflow made it difficult for the students to learn.

The new school building is nearly 3,000 square feet and contains three large classrooms. It can fit up to 150 students at a time and is also used for adult literacy classes in the evenings. The school will be a source of learning for generations to come.

Off to the Olympics

Charles undertook this charitable act while playing professional basketball and preparing for the London Olympics. The Olympic Games begin today, July 27, and Charles will play for a team that has won the gold medal in the last four Olympic Games.

The first-time Olympic competitor considers her placement on the team, along with 12 fellow female basketball players, a “testament to how hard [she] works.”

Whether it is representing her country in the Olympic Games or giving back to the community, Charles is always working hard. “Once you receive, you have to give,” she told TFK. “I wanted to give others the same opportunities I had growing up.”

Keep up with the London Games on TFK’s Olympic mini-site, timeforkids.com/olympics2012.