Playworks believes in the power of play to bring out the best in every kid. In early May, Playworks’ AmeriCorps members and a team of school-based volunteers from DeValles, Congdon and Normandin Schools stepped up to help transform the DeValles playground into a dynamic, engaging play space.
Painting a playground can have an amazing impact on a school community. Not only does it transform a drab and colorless blacktop into a bright and inviting place for kids to play, but it also helps to create a safer space for students at recess. By adding designated areas for games like kickball, four-square, and tag, students have clear boundaries and conflicts between students are less likely to occur. Having a number of options readily available also means that students are empowered to choose their own activity and that they spend less time debating what to play, maximizing both physical activity and fun.
“Recess is a powerful opportunity for students to engage in collaborative play while strengthening critical social-emotional skills,” says Emily Westgate, Curriculum, Data, and Assessment Manager for Health & Wellness. “Working with Playworks to transform the bare blacktop into a colorful, safe, and fun place will ensure DeValles students are able to reap the full physical and emotional benefits recess offers.”
In a few short hours, volunteers added over 10 distinct game areas with everything from a soccer field to a Chewbacca court (a DeValles student favorite!). To cap it off, volunteers tapped into their artistic abilities and even added the school mascot, a dragon, to the center field circle!
Play is a Priority for New Bedford School District
In 2016, Playworks launched a partnership with the New Bedford School District to bring safe, healthy play to elementary students across the district. Since then, Playworks has partnered with twelve schools in collaboration with the New Bedford Public Schools’ Safe and Supportive Schools Initiative.
“New Bedford has been an incredible partner,” says Morgan Redman, Playworks’ Program Director. “Together, we’re working to ensure all students have opportunities to not just learn but practice key social-emotional skills, like empathy, teamwork, and conflict resolution.”
The past year has been like no other – with the COVID-19 crisis altering the education landscape and presenting major short- and long-term challenges to our area schools and school districts. Play will continue to be a critical tool to re-engage students and begin to address learning loss and creating dynamic, empowering playgrounds is one step towards ensuring students have the support necessary to re-emerge from the pandemic.