On a field trip at age 11, Emmi visited a school in Los Angeles County with virtually no sports equipment. She was shocked to see that students her age didn’t even have bats or balls at recess—things she took for granted—or anything else to stimulate physical activity and teach teamwork. To address this disparity, Emmi founded Play It Forward (PIF), an organization that collects and distributes sports equipment to underserved schools. Participating schools customize a “wish list” of equipment they need, and PIF uses funds they’ve raised to buy and donate each school’s key priority items.
Building up schools’ physical education programs provides far-reaching health and emotional benefits, builds students’ confidence and determination, and promotes teamwork. Emmi also provides physical education resources to teachers at schools that might not be able to afford gym teachers. By 2015, four years after starting the project, PIF had raised $80,000 in cash and in-kind donations of sporting goods, provided equipment to serve approximately 10,000 students in 20 schools, and inspired 50 teen volunteers to be part of giving back.