Baltimore, MD—January 15, 2018—At Playworks Maryland, we honored Dr. King’s legacy by participating in a day of service. This year, our service project took on the form of a Junior Coach Leadership Conference. We gathered fourth- and fifth-graders from across the city and created activities and discussions around our theme: “Being a Leader in Your Community.”
The theme fully embraced what our coaches and youth leaders are doing in their school communities each and every day. Junior Coaches help to create a safe space on the playground. They are leaders at recess and throughout the school day and are positive role models. Our community is enriched by their kindness and playful being.
Playworks staff, coaches, Junior Coaches, parents, and volunteers gathered to participate in various activities throughout the day which included special guests, performances, and interactive games that exemplified what it means to be a leader in the community.
We also created a panel of community leaders, including Derek Battle, Co-founder of Baltimore based non-profit Play Fresh; Ebonye Jones, Jr. Team Tennis Coordinator of The United States Tennis Association-Mid Atlantic; and Ena Linton, Chief Operating Officer of Play Fresh. Junior Coaches had the opportunity to interact with the panel and learn how to improve their leadership skills. They also learned how to translate these skills in and out of the classroom.
The fun-filled day continued with Junior Coaches and others sharing laughs and good times in the UA facilities gym, in the classrooms, and on their turf. We played games that reinforced Playworks’ core values of respect, inclusion, healthy play and healthy community. Playworks coaches facilitated games such as blindfold relay, medic basketball, all tangled up, and more.
As pictured (right), Play Fresh’s Co-founder Derek Battle showed kids the importance of the environment through football. He added a creative twist with fog, which represented the effects of pollution in Maryland.
Junior Coaches also enjoyed a game, facilitated by Ena and Derek, that reminded us all of “steal the bacon,” where the football was a piece of material that needed to be discarded. As each student would attempt to dodge the opposing team from stealing their flag, Derek Battle would call out an item and each student had to run to pick up the football (item) and place it in the proper bin (recycle, trash, or compost).
At the end of the conference, many parents and volunteers shared their praise and admiration for the Junior Coach program with Playworks staff and coaches. They also expressed interest in volunteering and becoming more involved with Playworks.
During the 2017-18 school year, Playworks Maryland will serve 40 schools and reach 20,000 children across the state. This conference is just one of the many ways that Playworks has worked together with schools throughout Maryland to keep kids active, healthy, and display the importance of leadership and safe, meaningful play.
For more information on Playworks and how to get involved visit www.playworks.org/maryland.