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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Playground Story of the Week

A positive playground story from Coach Michael

Playworks provides various after school leagues to give students additional opportunities for safe and inclusive play, focusing on just one sport. These leagues teach skills for each specific sport, while also teaching important team-building and developmental skills. The following story demonstrates how these leagues are truly important for helping students new to the game gain confidence in trying new things.


          One of the coolest things about Playworks Leagues is seeing the growth from the first game to the last. Girls’ Basketball especially was a great time this year. One particular girl who I will call Samantha, was very shy and felt intimidated for the first two games. It was hard even to get a smile out of her. It seemed she lacked confidence in herself, making it difficult for her to move around, call for the ball, or take shots to the hoop.

          It wasn’t until the third practice/game when she really started to shine. Something ignited in her and she became much more comfortable being a part of the team. From that point on, she was moving up and down the court, making herself open for passes, and even shooting the ball when she got the chance. I could see she was trying her best, getting rid of any uncertainties, worries, or nervousness. It felt like I had a completely new player on the team! It was awesome to witness such success in someone who started out feeling so unsure of herself.

          For the rest of the season, she ended up being one of the best players on the team. She was making plays and was always there for her teammates. The turn around from week one to the final week was huge, and I was happy to be a part of it. This is why Playworks Leagues are so important: she is now more outgoing, all around happier, and I am sure she will continue to shine as the years go by.

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Playground Story of the Week

A positive playground story from Coach Blake

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 power of the Junior Coach program significantly improved one student’s attitude and focus on responsibilities.


          A student who I will call John is a 3rd grader new to the school and a year older than most of his classmates. In the beginning of the school year, I was able to have him out at recess with me or in charge of the equipment. He was labeled as the “bad kid” and in the “bad class” by some of the students, and unfortunately, his poor behavior in class was resolved by having him skip recess. His teacher, the school’s resource team, and I have been collaborating on what we could do to maximize his time with positivity. John does very well whenever he is with me, so I thought it would good to make him a Junior Coach. However, Junior Coaches are traditionally for 4th and 5th graders only, so I created “Freshman Coaches” as an opportunity for 3rd graders to contribute to their school through leadership.

          They are allowed to “work” before school recess if they are exhibiting good leadership skills. I saw this as a great opportunity for John. I talked to him and his teacher about the conditions to which he can participate and how excited I was to have him join. He has been with me for 2 days and I can already see an improvement in his choices and attitude. John thrives when he has responsibilities and tasks to complete. According to one of his resource teachers, John comes to her after recess excited and proud of being a Freshman Coach. I am so happy that he enjoys being a Freshman Coach, and that it is positively impacting him. I can not wait to see how he grows the rest of the year.

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