As Playworks continues its fourth year in Portland, we’ve been busy optimizing every opportunity during the day for children in low-income schools to create healthier lives and school climates. Through play, our program coordinators (coaches) teach kids (and model) the importance of inclusion and respect and empower them to solve their conflicts in positive ways.
Coach Ruby joined Playworks Portland in 2009, our first year in the Pacific Northwest. She served two years as an AmeriCorps program coordinator with Playworks then transitioned to become a veteran staff member. Playworks program coordinators like Coach Ruby are present and smiling at each of our partner schools every day from 8:30am to 5:30pm. She has played thousands of games with hundreds of students and transformed a school once riddled with behavior issues and bullying into a place of active learning, high fives and rock, paper, scissors. The Junior Coach program is a leadership development opportunity for 4th and 5 graders, (just one of five Playworks program components) that elevates school climate and builds a strong peer community. Coach Ruby recently shared this about one of her students;
“Chloe was a reserved student, but behind her shy exterior was something incredible. She was an outstanding leader, with infectious positivity. I remember during a kickball game Chloe noticed a peer having a terrible time. Like a pro, Chloe consoled him, told him how great he was doing and turned his attitude around. Chloe’s greatest asset as a Junior Coach is her selflessness for others. She is a role model and a catalyst for positive change.”
Coach Ruby, Sitton Elementary School, Portland
Junior Coach Chloe graduated to middle school this year but we know she has learned valuable skills and will continue to inspire those around her and will continue to be an outstanding leader for her community and Ambassador of Play.
Stories like these become reality every day and we are able to expand our services to reach more children in struggling communities. Thank you for being our partner!
Expanding our Playful Reach in the Northwest
Playworks Portland is excited to celebrate a significant grant from Kaiser Permanente Northwest’s Community Benefit Program to further Playworks’ goal of increasing opportunities for safe, meaningful play and physical activity. Funds will be used to increase the access, opportunities and impact of play for 20,000 school aged children in the Pacific Northwest region.
“We are thrilled to deepen our partnership with Kaiser Permanente Northwest to help kids be healthy and ready to learn,” says Jonathan Blasher, Playworks Portland executive director. “This support will help us continue our vision of ensuring that every child in the Pacific Northwest gets to experience a great school recess.”
As part of the one-year grant, Kaiser Permanente funds will support Playworks’:
“Kaiser Permanente Northwest is dedicated to improving the health of the communities that we serve. This partnership with Playworks will allow us to support our common efforts in the region and increase the potential for schools to be a center of health, learning and well-being,” remarked Kaiser Community Benefit Manager, Molly Haynes.
Play Works for Employees
For a second year in a row, Oregon Business magazine has named Playworks Portland one of the 100 Best Nonprofits to Work For in Oregon. The list is compiled to recognize nonprofits for fostering an outstanding workplace. The rankings were based on the confidential input of employees who answered questions about workplace satisfaction such as benefits, management, trust, work environment and career development. Scores and ranking of the winning100 nonprofits will appear in the October issue of Oregon Business and announced at a dinner event this Fall.
It must be Spring because it’s just about time for Playworks Portland’s Third Annual Corporate Kickball Tournament.Last year we had a number of great corporations and organizations join and support us including Nike, Portland Trail Blazers, Portland Pilots, Symantec, Columbia Sportswear, Interworks, Kaiser Permanente, Kohl's, the Children's Hospital at Legacy Emanuel and PPS Principals. Corporate Kickball is a great opportunity for you to get your staff out of the office, participate in some team-building and sneak in a little networking, all in support for nearly 6,000 kids in Portland!
Another Successful and Fun Junior Coach Conference
The Junior Coach Conference is the time when we get to celebrate the hard work of our amazing junior coaches, those 4th and 5th grade students best known for wearing bright purple shirts on the playground. Last month more than 120 junior coaches from all over Portland gathered at Rigler Elementary to play games and participate in exciting workshops to increase their leadership skills. This is a valuable time for kids to learn from each other, and for us to honor and appreciate the hard work of the students and the positive improvement they have made on their schools.
The morning began with kids from each school performing cheers and songs to introduce themselves. They then spent a fun-filled day playing team building games and practicing positive communication. After a wonderful lunch prepared by volunteers, they met professional lacrosse player, Ryan Powell who gave a talk about dedication and teamwork, then was visited by teacher and socially conscious hip hop artist Chris Riser and DJ Common Denominator for a dance party! We wrapped up with an awesome scavenger hunt.
We would especially like to give a HUGE whoosh clap to our coaches for mentoring and training their junior coaches throughout the year!
Great Recesses Reduce Bullying and Helps Learning
In one of the most rigorous scientific trials to find an effect on bullying, researchers from Mathematica Policy Research and Stanford University have found that a Playworks recess can transform school climate, paving the way for less bullying and more focus on learning.
The study, one of the first that evaluates a recess- and play-based program, found that investing in recess and organized play can reduce bullying, improve student behavior at recess and readiness for class, and provide more time for teaching and learning. The study specifically looked at what happened when schools partnered with Playworks.
This new research finds evidence that Playworks offers a promising approach to reduce bullying, and represents the first in a series of findings.
Corporate Recess a Hit! We are thrilled that three lucky businesses were able to win a Corporate Recess for their employees this spring. Corporate Recess is a fun and active opportunity for your employees through two platforms: onsite team-building; and school based community engagement. Developed by Playworks, the national leader in play, Corporate Recess is customized for you by our local experts to transform your work space to a playground or bring your team to help transform a school playground. It engages your staff in lively playground games that promote key conflict resolution skills, teamwork and collaboration. Contact us today and schedule your Corporate Recess!
Thank you for your support!