On May 13, 2017, over 350 students gathered together at Loma Linda Elementary for the annual Junior Coach Leadership Conference. This was a huge turnout for Playworks Arizona and the largest conference to date!
Over 40 schools were represented by students who were selected to become Junior Coaches based on their leadership skills, sense of responsibility, and dedication to their schools. The selected Junior Coaches worked incredibly hard throughout the year, leading by example and making their schools a better place. As the school year came to a close, it was the perfect time to celebrate these very deserving students.
The morning began with some lively dancing led by Playworks Arizona coaches, as they went to extra lengths to put a smile on their students' faces. Then, it was time for the Color War Games, where each team of students represented a different university (Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University, Grand Canyon University, and the University of Arizona) and competed in various challenges and activities. This game was intended to get students excited at the prospect of attending one of these universities and instilling a sense of school pride.
When the Color Wars game ended, it was time for the Junior Coach graduation—the big event of the day. Many parents were in attendance and tears were shed as students played “stand up if.” Students were asked different prompts and asked to stand up if they identified with the statements, including, "Stand up if Playworks has changed your life.” Slideshows of Junior Coaches throughout the year were displayed as the CEO of United Healthcare, Joe Gaudio, delivered a speech on the importance of education and healthy living. Students were later treated to pizza and, the highlight of the day, cookie ice cream sandwiches generously donated by Freddy's Frozen Custard & Steakburgers.
When all was said and done, over 650 students graduated from the Junior Coach Leadership Program (over 350 in attendance at the conference). We are so proud of each and every one of them. Congratulations to the class of 2016-2017!