Playworks

To improve the health and well-being of children by increasing opportunities for physical activity and safe, meaningful play. We improve school climates, rescue recess and help regain lost teaching time.
Jun 24, 2016

It's Not All About Winning-As a Junior Coach, Jacob learned to play for the sake of play

Jacob likes to play, and he likes to win. In elementary school, he recalls, “We would spend a lot of time playing soccer, and I always wanted to win. I was really competitive.”

“I always thought the Junior Coaches were really cool, because they were always the people organizing sports and games at lunch,” says Jacob. When he became a Playworks Junior Coach, it was a big win.

But being a Junior Coach was difficult. Sometimes people wouldn’t listen to Jacob because they were the same age. They didn’t always pay attention when he tried to explain the rules.

“I would always get mad when someone didn’t follow the rules of the sport. I noticed that even if the main goal of games was having fun, I always wanted to win.” Jacob remembers.

To support other students, Jacob had to learn to let go. “Junior Coaching taught me that it’s not all about winning; it’s about having fun. I liked being able to organize the activities and help kids learn new sports and games that maybe they’d never played before.”

In many Playworks games there are no winners and losers, and if people get out, it is easy to get back in the game. This way, kids can keep playing all recess long. Jacob learned to appreciate playing for the sake of playing:

“My favorite game was a game called Infected, like tag, but where everyone who got tagged could start tagging people. We played in large groups that got together on the field as soon as recess started, so we could play and run for a really long time.”

Now, Jacob is in high school. He is still ambitious and he still likes to win, but his love of play for the sake of play makes him a stronger leader. As a ski coach, his Junior Coach experience pays off.

“I understand now how to work with the little kids,” he says. “Because I was a Junior Coach, I know how to be patient.”

May 26, 2016

How Junior Coach Julia Found Her Voice

Julia as a Junior Coach
Julia as a Junior Coach

When Julia transferred to Adelante Spanish Immersion School in Redwood City halfway through second grade, most of the kids had been together since kindergarten. “I didn’t have a ton of friends,” says Julia, “and it was hard adjusting. I wasn’t a super social kid—I was kind of a nerd—and it was a challenge for me to break out of my shell.”

Becoming a Junior Coach helped Julia find her voice. “Before being a Junior Coach, I had been really quiet in school,” she recalls. “Being a Junior Coach helped me be more extroverted. It made me more comfortable with who I was.”  

By high school, Julia was a self-described, “very loud person.” In fact, “My friends in high school called me Loudy. I have a loud voice that carries really well.” As team captain of her high school water polo team, being loud was key: “It is just necessary so your team can hear you. I had to yell a lot!”

For Julia however, finding her voice meant more than just learning to use her lungs. In elementary school, “I was a little bossy, and not the most popular kid,” Julia recalls. “Playworks helped me with a lot of social interaction stuff. Junior Coaches would lead games together, especially big games or games we knew would be super popular. We had to collaborate.”

“Being a junior coach was my first real opportunity to be a leader outside of schoolwork,” Julia says. “It was up to us to schedule what games we wanted to play, to figure out who would work together, and to get together the equipment.”

The teamwork and leadership skills Julia learned as a Junior Coach, even more than her loud voice, made her successful as a water polo team captain. They also prepared her for her future career.

“The younger kids really look to you and see you as a role model,” says Julia, who is now a first year student at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington. “I really enjoy working with kids, and that started when I was a Junior Coach.”

Julia continued working with kids and growing as a leader as a camp counselor. Now, she is studying History with a triple minor in Education Studies, Math, and Sociology/Anthropology, and plans to become a history teacher.

“I still have my Junior Coach shirt in my drawer, and my friends and I still talked about it during high school,” she says. “It really sticks with you!”

Julia as a Community Leader
Julia as a Community Leader

Links:

Feb 29, 2016

Playworks Turns Twenty

Twenty Years of Play
Twenty Years of Play

Throughout the year, we will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the founding of Playworks and with it, 20 years of bringing healthy, safe, and inclusive play to hundreds of thousands of children across the country. Spanning 20 playful years, Playworks has grown to become the nonprofit leader using the power of play to transform children’s social, emotional, and physical health.

In 1996, Playworks Founder and CEO Jill Vialet launched Sports4Kids, now called Playworks, in two Berkeley, CA elementary schools after she met with a school principal who asked for help in reducing the chaos and conflict in the schoolyard during recess. With a multi-million dollar investment from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation that spanned a decade, as well as a partnership with AmeriCorps, support from our national corporate partners, and donations from thousands of individuals, Playworks has since grown to serve 750,000 children annually in 1,300 elementary schools in nearly every state.

There is one thing we know for certain after 20 years on school playgrounds in communities all across the country: play works for every kid. And we don’t plan to stop any time soon. Now more than ever, every kid deserves the chance to play. Stay tuned—throughout 2016, we’ll be inviting you to help amplify play for every kid across America. Thank you for 20 years of supporting the life-changing power of play!

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