During my time as a Playworks coach, there were many kids and experiences that touched my life, but none more so than a first grader Elijah. Elijah was new to the school, and at the beginning of the year, was having a difficult time adjusting to the school and making friends. He often spent his time at recess following me around to whatever game I played. As the year went on, I tried encouraging him to stay at games while I transitioned to other games with little success. Then I decided it was time to enlist my Junior Coaches’ help. I worked with Junior Coach Justin on ways to invite kids into games and make them feel comfortable after the coach has left.
One day, Justin saw Elijah sitting on the wall, not engaged at recess. Justin went up to Elijah and asked him to play. Elijah turned him down at first but instead of walking away Justin sat down and talked with Elijah for a few minutes. From across the playground, I saw them laughing and high-fiving. Then Justin motioned toward Switch and Elijah, getting the biggest smile on his face, chased Justin to the Switch game. That was all it took. From that day forward, Elijah found his confidence on the playground and became an active participant in recess.