Jonathan Avila is a fifth grade student at World and Achieve Academy in Oakland, where he’s been a Junior Coach since the beginning of the school year.
On a recent sunny afternoon, Coach Jonathan and I sat down together on the playground to talk about the roles, responsibilities and challenges of being a Junior Coach.
Q: Why is it important to be a role model as a Junior Coach?
A: The other kids look up to me so it is important to be a role model. I teach the younger students how to play and behave on the playground. When a kindergartner, sees another student playing the game correctly they say, “Oh! That is the correct way to play that game.” But if they see another student doing something that is bad, like bullying another student, they will think it is okay to bully and will not understand that it is wrong. As a Junior Coach, I have to show them the correct way to behave and have fun on the playground.
Q: What is your favorite game to play?
A: Every single game is my favorite! I enjoy playing all of the Playworks games and activities!
Q. What is the hardest thing about being a Junior Coach?
A. Sometimes kids get into arguments during a game. I tell them to do Ro Sham Bo, but sometimes they are still mad at each other. I take the time to listen to each person’s side of the story and help them work it out. The hardest thing I deal with as a Junior Coach is helping kids work out their problems and encouraging them not to be mad at each other.
Q. What characteristics do you think Junior Coaches should have?
A. Junior Coaches should be loving and inspiring. I love to hang out with all the kids, from kindergartners to fifth graders. Junior Coaches should be fun to hang out with, nice to the other kids, and good role models.
Q. Why do you think you were chosen to be a Junior Coach?
A. I am a very helpful person. When kids get hurt I help them up, I talk to them, I walk them to the office to get them a band-aid, or I get them an ice pack. I really like to help other people.
Q. What have you learned during your time as Junior Coach?
A. During our Junior Coach meetings, Coach Chia (Playworks Program Coordinator) asks us how our day was and what we can do to improve. She asks us what makes us sad, mad, and happy during the day and why those things make us feel that way. In the past, there were times when I would get mad about certain things. Coach Chia taught me to understand why those things were making me upset and how to control my anger. Now when I feel myself getting mad, I take a break to cool down. I really appreciate that Coach Chia taught me that.