Playworks Helps 5th Grader at Westgate Elementary Thrive as a Junior Coach

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Junior Coach K at Westgate Elementary used to be afraid of socializing. Becoming a Playworks Junior Coach changed that.

Playing at recess doesn’t come easy for every kid. Some kids struggle with shyness, anxiety, and fear of embarrassing themselves. Junior Coach K was a kid who struggled with play and struggled to come out of his shell. That was until Playworks was introduced at Westgate Elementary.

Playworks is a national nonprofit organization that serves kids through play by implementing a safe and healthy recess. With regional programming in Colorado, they serve thousands of kids in the Denver Metro area.

Before Playworks came to his school, Junior Coach K hardly enjoyed going out to recess. But with Playworks and Coach Jacob at his school, he started to feel comfortable being himself. “When I was in fourth grade, I was a kid who usually tried not to draw any attention to myself, but now I know it is okay to be myself around other people.”

The Junior Coach Program puts kids in a leadership role. During recess, the Junior Coaches help the adult Playworks AmeriCorps Coaches create an inclusive and fun environment for kids on the playground. Junior Coaches meet once a week to learn new games and learn leadership skills that they can use in other aspects of their lives.

Playworks’ Junior Coach Program has helped Coach K realize his potential and helped him get over his anxiety of participating in activities with other kids. He has now come out of his shell and started enjoying recess and play.

He is not only a Junior Coach; he also takes part in multiple extracurricular activities, including floor hockey and choir. According to Coach K, all of the things that he has done this year were because of Playworks. “If it wasn’t for the Junior Coach Program, I wouldn’t have done all of the activities that I’ve done this year. ”

Junior Coach K not only enjoys being a part of Playworks but also appreciates the recognition he has received from Playworks AmeriCorps Coach Jacob who has loved working with Junior Coach K. Coach Jacob says that Junior Coach K plays by the rules and shows great sportsmanship, which is one of the many things that Coach Jacob admires about Junior Coach K.

In the 21st century, there is no doubt that schools around the United States have put less of an emphasis on play and recess. This lack of attention to play leaves some kids feeling left out and bullied. Playworks is looking to change that trend. We are driven to give every kid safe and healthy play throughout U.S. schools because we know that play helps with a child’s social, physical, and mental development. At Playworks, we believe that play is a pivotal part of turning our kids into future leaders and well-rounded, successful adults.

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