I joined Playworks as an AmeriCorps member in order to serve my community and impact the nation. I spend five days a week at Randle Highlands Elementary School, teaching games and engaging students, and I spend even more weekend days serving beyond the school. My students love all that I do for and with them. In their eyes, an adult who plays games with them is the best thing ever. They know about Playworks, but until recently, they didn’t know about AmeriCorps.
Last month, I was teaching a lesson to a second grade class when I told them that I was not only teaching them, I was also serving their community. Confused, they asked questions like: “Coach T, you are serving time? What did you do wrong?” I chuckled and explained that this was different, this service is for a good cause.
I told them I am an AmeriCorps member. To help them understand, I asked if they knew what would happen if a bad storm destroyed their homes.
Some kids said they would get tools and rebuild. Others said they would move. I explained that some AmeriCorps programs send people to help rebuild people’s homes when they are in need. AmeriCorps members volunteer to help people in need through different programs in schools and communities. I chose to serve with them!
When I shared this, their eyes got big and their mouths dropped open. They said, “Wow, Coach T. You are like a superhero and you play 1,000 games!”
Their reaction was priceless. They cheered and ran to give me a hug.
Even though these second graders don’t understand everything about AmeriCorps, they understood that I helped people and helping people is a good thing. This warmed my heart.
Following class, one student came up to me and said, “Coach T, it’s cool that you have helped other people and went to other schools to play with other kids, but I hope we never ever lose you, because you make us happy and we all love to play together.”
I can truly say AmeriCorps has changed me and opened my eyes to service even more.
Kortney Thurman is an AmeriCorps member and Playworks coach at Randle Highlands Elementary School in Washington, DC. Coach T, as her students call her, is a native of Anderson, Indiana and a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University, where she was a long jump champion and studied social welfare, health and education. When not leading games, you might find Kortney watching a movie, working out, or cheering for the Dallas Cowboys.