Thanks to your support we were able to provide inspiring coaches to 27 schools in Silicon Valley this school year! Meet Playworks Coach Jeff from George Mayne Elementary School. He's been bringing play to Santa Clara schools for over a year. We interviewed Coach Jeff in order to find out what motivates him to come to school every day and to understand the changes the Playworks program has made at George Mayne.
What’s your favorite thing about being a coach?
Besides teaching children about healthy play and respecting the game, what I love most is that I get to build relationships with every child at school. I get to know them more than just as a student, but as who they are. I learn about what they like, what they don’t like, how they play, how they react when put in tough situations, etc. I don’t see myself just as their Playworks coach, but as a role model and friend that they can turn to whenever they need help.
What inspired you to become a Playworks coach?
Since high school I’ve worked with kids, ranging from kindergarten to middle school. From my experiences, I’ve learned that working with kids is both awesome and rewarding. So when I heard about Playworks, I knew it was something I had to get involved in.
What’s the biggest change you’ve seen at your school because of Playworks?
More kids are getting involved and playing games. Hearing from teachers, before Playworks was at George Mayne, students were seen just walking around the playground and not really getting involved. Now, kids can’t wait to get out to recess and play not just with their peers, but younger students as well. At almost every game on our playground, there is a group of children from different grades cheering each other on, giving high fives, and respecting the game.
Imagine if there were a Coach Jeff at every school in Silicon Valley! Your support is allowing us to expand to even more schools next year! Thank you.
There are many reasons why Playworks is important to me. I believe that it is important to have acts of kindness everywhere a person goes. Helping others is an important act of kindness. It seems like there is so much negativity going on in our world that the amount of kindness seems to be limited. Playworks not only helps the kids at Crestline, but it helps me be a better person. I learn more and more about myself. I think that this is a great thing for kids to be involved in because life only gets harder and the pressure feels like it's never going to go away.I wanted to be a part of Playworks because for the first few years at Crestline I felt alone and picked on. I got bullied many times. I found myself playing at recess alone many times, and I never wanted to go to school because that part was really hard. My mom told me that it will get better and for me to not give up on people. I wanted to make sure that no one had to feel the way I did.Playworks is a unique opportunity for all the students to be involved one way or another. It could be giving or receiving help or friendship from people you wouldn't normally think would have the time of day for you.I feel that at our age things should be fun and we should be kids and enjoy life, but sometimes pressures are so much with homework, learning and then being alone or bullied makes being a kid very hard. I like playing with the younger kids. It makes me feel good knowing that I could change their day to a positive day. It frustrates me when bullies think that they can be mean to kids. My mom tells me that sometimes people are mean to other people because they are actually the one's hurting and they need kindness too. That is hard especially when bullies are cruel and hurt people. My friends and I still deal with this, but we walk away.I hope the generations can have less anger and sadness because of beginnings like Playworks. If we start young helping each other at a younger age it will get easier for the small and big acts of kindness will come naturally. We may not be able to solve the world's problems but being kind one act at a time is a good beginning for all of us to succeed.I want people to know Playworks is that act of kindness. I am very grateful to be part of something that means something so big that actually is a small amoung of time and effort.
Below is a story from Coach Micah at Theuerkauf Elementary in Mountain View. He shares the story of a Junior Coach, Emily who finds more than play from Playworks.
When people come to observe schools that have Playworks and the Junior Coaches in their purple shirts leading games around the playground, they often assume that these students have it all together. They started off at the top of their class, they are part of the “cool kids” on campus, and everyone wants to be just like them. This was not the case for Emily.
This is Emily’s second year being a Junior Coach, but just up until recently it did not mean much to her. While she was generally a good kid, there was not much that stood out about her. She did not excel at anything in particular and she felt like she had a hard time holding onto friendships. There would even be times when she just broke down during lunch or Junior Coach meetings and started sobbing that she has no real friends. In the beginning of this year, she hit her all time low when she was kicked out of the reading intervention program for failing to keep up with work, was teased by another group of girls, and constantly felt that she did not belong as a Junior Coach. All these things weighed very heavily on her.
After talking to her 5th grade teacher, I decided to make a proposition with her. If she worked hard in her reading intervention class, turned in all the classwork and homework assignments, turned in consistent reading logs, and took a reading assessment test at least once a week, her teacher and I would fully support her being a Junior Coach. At that point, something clicked on in her head, and she made the decision to work hard at her schooling so that she could stay as Junior Coach.
It has been 3 weeks since then, and now for 3 weeks in a row she has turned in all her reading logs, all assignments, and her teacher feels that the Junior Coach program is an awesome motivator for her to stay on track with her academics. On the playground, she is more carefree than ever, and her confidence, which I knew was there all along, now really shows when she commands her games.
I’m so proud to be a part of Playworks that has so many components that reach out to students in different ways. Playworks is not just about playing. For some, it is a way to become more responsible and develop confidence through leadership that so many students need.
Your support helps to train over 200 amazing Junior Coaches, like Emily, to be leaders at each of our partner schools. Thank you!