Playground Story of the Week

A positive playground story from Coach Ryan

Playworks has the power to bring out the best in every kid! Fun and safe play can positively impact each student’s development, no matter his or her background. This story exemplifies how inclusive play helps unite students and fosters a better school environment.


          A student who I will call Steven is a 3rd grade student who loves to play soccer and tends to be a bit aggressive. From the beginning of the year there have been some rules already in place; for example 1st and 2nd graders have their own soccer field, 3rd has their own, and then 4th and 5th share their own. He is a very good player, but gets very frustrated when kids who aren’t as talented ask to play with him. He has had soccer taken away from him for small periods of time because playing with others can be difficult. During that time, he bonded with a boy in the second grade who I will call James, who absolutely loves soccer but it can be difficult for him to play the sport because he is in an electric wheelchair. When Steven was allowed to continue to play soccer he took James under his wing to help him get better at the game. James now loves to play soccer and Steven has found a way to play fairly with others while also being able to enjoy the sport of soccer that he loves so much. It brought me great joy when little James asked if he can play with the 3rd graders and then I saw him find Steven, who just loves to get James the ball. It has shown other kids that anyone is capable and they have also taken it upon themselves to get James more involved; not just in soccer but other games as well!

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Playground Story of the Week

A positive playground story from Coach Jake

Playworks’ Junior Coach program allows students to help our coaches facilitate recess, and more importantly has the power to teach these students valuable, wide-ranging skills along the way. The following story exemplifies how the Junior Coach program can give all types of students an increased drive for leadership and creative thinking, while simultaneously promoting an inclusive recess environment.


          When reflecting on the power of the Junior Coach program I often think of a student who I will call Michael. I was introduced to Michael on the first day by one of his teachers. This teacher described him as very shy and someone with a tough life at home, but an incredibly caring boy with a potential to lead. When he was chosen to be a Junior Coach I can remember how elated he was, even giving me a hug. By the end of the day he had created a secret handshake he wanted to introduce at our Junior Coach meetings, ideas on how to map out the playground full of fun games, and even a plan to help stop bullying at recess. He was still very shy when talking in front of his fellow fourth and fifth graders, but his feeling of empowerment to be a Junior Coach was inspiring to witness. At the end of our first Junior Coach meeting, he stuck around to help me clean and thanked me because he always wanted to be a role model for others, and I was a role model for him. As the year progressed we developed a strong bond where he confided in me that he didn’t have a dad, but he saw me as his “school dad”.

          Michael began to take notes at meetings and create school signs advertising recess games. During recess he began to blossom especially with the younger students. At Kindergarten recess he was so popular that they would specifically request him to help play tag games and solve problems. His sister was also a Kindergarten student, always beginning recess by giving her a hug and asking how her day was going. Her friends saw this kindness and looked to Michael as a brother too. During our Junior Coach meetings his public speaking and leading skills also grew immensely. When asked what he liked most about being a Junior Coach, his answer was, “helping kids when they’re feeling down, and bringing them into games when they’re lonely”. By February, Michael was one of our top junior coaches who empowered others through hugs, compliments, and encouragement. On his 5th grade graduation I realized that at the start of the year he was searching for role models, but by the end he had become his own role model and a hero of mine.

 

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Playground Story of the Week

A positive playground story from Coach Christina

Playworks’ Junior Coach program allows students to help our coaches facilitate recess, and more importantly has the power to teach these students valuable, wide-ranging skills along the way. This heartwarming story shows the pure kindness of a few Junior Coaches, and perfectly exemplifies what Playworks hopes to bring out in every kid.


          Every few weeks, my Junior Coaches get a chance to purchase prizes from the Junior Coach Store using Stars they’ve earned throughout the year. They earn Stars a number of ways: by coming to all their shifts, meeting weekly goals, and receiving Junior Coach Awards such as The Positivity Award and The Helping Hand Award. When I opened the store a few weeks ago, three of my Junior Coaches who I will call Chris, Matthew, and Thomas, inspired me to create a new Junior Coach Award. This is what happened:

          Thomas was the first of the three to visit the store, but despite seriously considering buying a bouncy ball (one of the more expensive prizes), he left empty handed. Next, Chris visited the store. He asked me if a Junior Coach could buy a prize and then give it to another Junior Coach. I told him yes and watched as he reached for the bouncy ball that Thomas had wanted. Next, Matthew bought a magic grow alien. I didn’t realize it until later, but this alien was for Chris. Lastly, Thomas and Chris walked up to me with big smiles and Stars in hand. They wanted to buy a parachute man for Matthew, but neither had enough Stars to pay for it individually. They wanted to know if they could buy it together, so I said yes and they bought it together by combining their Stars.

          These actions made me smile for so many reasons: the way Chris asked for my permission to give his prize to someone else, the way Matthew bought something for Chris after Chris bought another person a prize, and the fact that Thomas spent all but three of his Stars on Matthew when a few minutes earlier he had been unwilling to spend them on himself. These three are such good kids and I am fortunate to be in a position to let them know when they do something awesome like this. As a result, I awarded The Generosity Junior Coach Award to each of these boys. As I explained how they had earned the award, the boys lit up and I could see how great this incident made them feel.

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Playground Story of the Week

A positive playground story from Coach Ryan

Playworks has the power to bring out the best in every kid! Fun and safe play can positively impact each student’s development, no matter his or her background. The following instance displays how friendly competition among students can lead to healthier lifestyle changes even outside of recess.


          Getting 5th grade girls to participate at recess can sometimes be difficult. Playing tag has gotten them involved from time to time, but it doesn’t seem to last. Recently, a few of the girls received fitbits from family members and the students absolutely love tracking their steps throughout the day. Luckily, I have one myself and for a few weeks they would come up to me to see where I was for my step count. Every time I would be much further along than they were because I am outside pretty much all day. To get them more involved, I started an incentive system with these students. If any of them could out step me by the end of the day then I would do different things, like do a funny dance, tell them a joke, or give them Gotcha Cards, which are the school incentives for prizes. This has become very popular at the school and has been especially impactful for the girls because it has gotten more students to join the competition. It is also great because they know that they need to start bright and early if they want to keep up with me. A couple of parents told me that they have noticed an increase in active play and active movement from their children at home. It is great to hear that students are being productive outside of school.

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Playground Story of the Week

A positive playground story from Coach Andres

Playworks has the power to bring out the best in every kid! Fun and safe play can positively impact each student’s development, no matter his or her background. The following story shows how inclusive play at recess was able to significantly boost the confidence of a quiet student.


          A student who I will call David is 5th grade student with a certain disability that causes him to be very quiet. He rarely speaks to anyone or says more than 3 words to anybody besides his guardian. So naturally, it is difficult for him to play games with others during recess. Early in the school year his guardian asked if I could try to get him involved with other students during recess time and play any kind of game. Every day during recess for the next 3 weeks I would ask David to join the game being played at the time; these games range from four square to tag to basketball. His response would be either a simple “No” or he would stay quiet and walk away from me. Finally after 3 weeks, he agreed to play a game of basketball with me and other students. It was easy to tell that he was having a great time and getting along with all the other students. Ever since that day, on his own, he talked to more students during recess and even occasionally asked me to play basketball with him. He still has his quiet days where he doesn’t want to talk or play with anyone, but there are more days he is very outgoing.

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