BOSTON, Mass. – On Feb. 22 and 23, Playworks New England welcomed 150 fourth and fifth grade students, representing 29 Boston Public Schools and five schools in Somerville, during the nonprofit’s eighth annual Junior Coach Leadership Convention at Northeastern University. Participating students, who are Playworks Junior Coaches and lead their peers on the playground during recess for the nonprofit, engaged in organized games and activities to develop leadership skills to be used during school, at home and in their communities.
During the two-day event, Playworks staff, volunteers and other special guests led students in organized skill-building games and activities across campus. The goal of the two-day event was to keep students socially, emotionally and physically engaged while providing them with the opportunity to play with their peers during February school vacation.
On the first day, Eliza Shirazi, creator of Kick It by Eliza, and Adelle Girvan, a Kick-It By Eliza Instructor kicked off the two day event with a fun-filled kickboxing class followed by discussion about the importance of inclusion and bullying prevention. In the afternoon, 15 of Playworks New England’s AmeriCorps Program Coordinators broke students into five different groups to engage in anti-bullying conversations. During this time, Playworks Junior Coaches discussed their roles as leaders in and out of school and ways in which they can reinforce positive sportsmanship during recess. In addition, they developed life maps and shared their current and future goals.
On the second day, varsity student-athletes from Northeastern University and a member of the Boston Renegades professional women’s team shared how their experiences playing sports have helped shaped them into leaders on their teams, in the classroom, and in their communities during a Q&A-style discussion panel. Panelists emphasized the importance of engaging in positive extracurricular activities and doing well both socially and academically in school. The event concluded with a student scavenger hunt across campus, leading Junior Coaches to explore classrooms, lecture halls, the library and student store. Official campus tours were also provided by Northeastern University Tour Guides.
“This year’s Junior Coach Leadership Convention was a great success,” says Jonathan Gay, Playworks New England Executive Director. “Our Junior Coaches participated in many skill-building activities and conversations that will enable them to become better leaders in school and in life. For many students, this was the first time visiting a college campus and we hope we have inspired them to pursue a college education and achieve their dreams.”
Playworks New England is leading the regional recess revolution. The nonprofit, which is part of a national organization, brings play and youth development programming into schools during recess as a means to improve the health and well-being of children and to enhance learning through the power of play.
Since 2006, Northeastern University has been Playworks New England’s premiere collegiate partner. Northeastern students volunteer at Playworks schools during recess and the university’s volleyball and women’s basketball teams participate in the nonprofit’s after school sports leagues. For 10 years, the New Balance Foundation has been the nonprofit’s premier movement building partner.
Entering its 11th year, Playworks New England serves 50,000 students in more than 100 elementary schools across Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Hampshire. To date, the nonprofit has served 160,000 youth. For more information, visit: http://www.playworks.org/communities/massachusetts.