This year has been an incredible one for Playworks New England, and we want to share ten moments that have brought us joy in 2021. Enjoy!
1. We hosted our first ever virtual Junior Coach Leadership Conference in February! Normally, this two day event is held in-person but in accordance with public health guidelines, we moved to a Zoom conference in 2021. Our time was full of virtual games, scavenger hunts, lessons on leadership, and even a poetry session with Boston Scores!
2. In April, we participated in a New Bedford Virtual Game Night in partnership with the New Bedford Public School District! It was an evening full of Night at the Museum, Simon Says, Color Tag, and countless other games played over Zoom with elementary and middle school students. We were so grateful for the opportunity to spread joy through play in New Bedford!
3. Alongside other community partners such as BPS Moves Together, the Boston Foundation, BOKS, and the Red Sox Foundation, Playworks helped launch Boston Back in Motion, an initiative aimed to provide a fun, motivating experience for young people to get moving and engage in healthy choices throughout the month of April. We had a great time encouraging our schools and community partners to participate in the daily challenges, and even got Wally involved!
4. 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. The school was absolutely thrilled with their new playground, especially the free-hand painting of the school’s mascot, the Devalles Dragon, painted by one of our talented volunteers.
5. Following Boston Back in Motion, the Rafael Hernandez K-8 School was awarded the grand prize which included a Playball Field Day, hosted by the Red Sox Foundation! During recess on a Friday in June, each class was led through a variety of baseball-related games, participated in a Home Run Derby, and even got to meet former Red Sox player, Sam Horn! This was such a joyful way to celebrate the partnership between Playworks and the Red Sox Foundation, and the students loved a day of recess dedicated to baseball!
6. Our Americorps Coaches make up the majority of our direct-service staff, and we had an awesome group of Coaches for the 2020-21 school year. Our Americorps Graduation was a time full of laughter, water balloon fights, and wiffleball, and as hard as it was to see these Coaches “graduate,” we are so thankful for all the joy they brought to the team and their schools!
7. In August, we onboarded another incredible cohort of Americorps Coaches! These new additions to our team brought energy, fresh perspectives, and lots of new games, and have been doing incredible work at their schools.
8. During our August Preservice, Coach Steph taught our team a brand new cheer: The Chicken Cheer. This has since become a favorite in our region and is used widely at school. Check it out, and try not to get the song stuck in your head!
9. At the end of our August Preservice, we assign Coaches to the schools that they will serve at for the year. This year’s school reveal was a game of Balloon Tag, where every coach had a specific balloon tied to their ankle with a slip of paper inside, which had the name of their assigned school written on it. Balloon Tag gets pretty intense – protecting your balloon while trying to step on others’ balloons – and it was a fun and joyful way to kick off the school year.
10. Coach M&M is a Site Coordinator at the Fletcher Maynard Academy, McKinley Elementary and Middle Schools, and the Sumner School, and is always dressed to impress! He’s the inspiration behind our #FitCheckFriday series, and always makes our Playworks gear look awesome!