Fourth and fifth grade junior coaches (JCs) and Playworks Chicago staff came together at the Pulaski Park Field House for the first ever Playworks Chicago Junior Coach Conference. The day began with an icebreaker game called human bingo which allowed the participants to introduce themselves to JCs from other schools and also learn fun facts about their friends and colleagues. After a welcome circle, the JCs broke into two groups to begin the day’s rotational a workshops, which focused on the Playworks' core values of respect, inclusion, healthy community and healthy play.
The “Respect” workshop was entitled the "Tint of Your Glasses.” Led by Coach Allie, the JCs were asked a series of questions and then used their own creativity to write and draw their answers. The activity focused on things like nationality, family and favorite hobbies. The purpose was to show how different experiences give people different perspectives, or "lenses," to look at life through.
In the “Inclusion” workshop, Coach AD led “Spider Web,” where each JC shared something positive about themselves before holding onto the string and throwing it to the next person, creating a "web" where each player was connected. It was a safe place for everyone to teach something new about themselves and find out similarities and differences within the group.
In the “Healthy Community” workshop, Coach Debbie ran “1, 2, 3.” The JCs had different sets of 3 choices and ranked them by first, second, and third. The activity gave the JCs practice in choosing options and they learned how making decisions is an important part in building a healthy community.
The “Healthy Play” workshop, was an “Invent A Game” activity led by Coaches Chelsea and Ashley. The JCs broke into two teams to collaborate and create new games using their mind power and a limited amount of equipment.
Each team came up with some awesome ideas and taught them to the whole group. All the JCs can now bring these new twists to the playgrounds at their schools. It was a great way to showcase their teamwork and leadership skills by presenting in front of their peers.
Our first Junior Coach Conference was a blast for the students as well as for the Playworks staff. We all learned from each one another, and the JCs were able to bring their newly learned skills back to their schools and have even more of an impact as student leaders. We are already in the throes of planning our spring conference and can’t wait to see all our junior coaches together again!