This year Playworks will provide core programming for over 450 k-5 Hennigan Elementary students. This will all be made possible by Coach Dawnn Jaffier, who will be present and smiling everyday from 8:30 to 5:30. Dawnn is a Brighton native who herself was a dodgeball and double dutch champion at Jackson Mann Elementary (another Playworks partner) before eventually moving on to attend high school at John D. O'Bryant School of Math & Science.
Upon graduating from UMass Amherst in 2010 she returned home to serve Boston as an AmeriCorps member with City Year, as well as continuing to be an active member, alumni, and staff at the West End House Boys and Girls Club. After completing a term with City Year Dawnn’s desire to continue to improve the lives of Boston’s youth brought her to Playworks.
As an AmeriCorps program coordinator with Playworks she has transformed a school once riddled with behavior issues and bullying into a place of high fives and rock, paper, scissors. One particular student that has benefitted from Dawnn’s positive coaching has been Jacey, a third grader.
"I started a program called the Diamond Program,” says Dawnn, “in which I’ve taken a group of students with behavioral issues and given them the opportunity to be a Junior Coach one day a week, but only if their behavior and class work has improved.” Jacey is a member of the Diamond Program.
Jacey started the year on the wrong foot, often being involved in playground scuffles and not completing class work. Dawnn saw this as an opportunity to change a life through play. “We have had many conversations about right and wrong, and what it means to be a leader. I gave him a chance to lead football at recess and that one opportunity has proven to be all he needed.”
Through the power of play and positive coaching Dawnn was able to transform a child’s life in three months. “I can say he has improved immensely, I’m proud of him and I can see that he’s proud of himself.” Dawn then added, “He has even won the Playworks Peace Award!”