Leah Kelly is a returning AmeriCorps Coach who began her service with Playworks in August 2019. Coach Leah has already demonstrated herself to be a leader within her cohort, stepping up to lead games, co-assist in training, and contributing in corporate recess opportunities with partners. This year Leah will be serving at the Hernandez school. As many students have missed out on physical activity and social-emotional learning from the pandemic and resulting isolation, Coach Leah is tasked with embracing alternative learning styles like virtual instruction and working with children to ensure they are building upon core social-emotional skills. This September, Playworks is honoring Coach Leah as our Coach of the Month!
Coach Leah was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and went to the University of Pittsburgh. Leah was an active runner in high school and played soccer for over 14 years. It was in her final semester in college where she found Playworks. When asked what inspires her to coach, Coach Leah stated, “I see so much potential in children and play is a great way to transform their lives. As a Coach, I am able to both build great SEL skills with the kids and genuinely have fun. Also, every child deserves a caring and consistent adult and the ability to make play in their daily routine.”
Her Playworks Program Manager, Dana Harris, also spoke to the accomplishments of Coach Leah and her impact within the region. “Playworks New England is extremely lucky to have Coach Leah bring her high-energy, creative mind, and tireless work ethic to her school community every day at the Hernandez school. She is the standard-bearer of what it means to be a Playworks Coach.”
Unlike any other year, coaches at Playworks are facing unforeseen challenges due to the pandemic and are working extra hard to ensure all students have access to skill development and a caring consistent adult. Leah spoke to these new circumstances, “many kids have lost social connection because of quarantine – this year is an opportunity for me to bring joy and connection to the kids that have been isolated for so long.”
When thinking about what will be difficult about the year ahead Leah responded that, “The first word that comes to mind is ‘equity’. It is clear that every student does not have the same access to technology. My obstacle this year is how do I reach all kids despite the problems that are in front of them. “
Though knowing the obstacles that lay ahead, that has not stopped Coach Leah from wanting to perform her service at Playworks schools. Leah explained that she was most excited to “…connect with the kids and see them smile and be genuinely happy. I want to let the kids have fun!”
Thank you Coach Leah for all your hard work!