Each year, San Francisco’s bustling South of Market (SOMA) district comes alive with thousands of individuals from the cloud computing industry. The streets are closed and traffic redirected as hordes of flood the streets to attend Salesforce.com's Dreamforce, one of the largest technology conferences in the country and a highly anticipated event.
Thanks to a successful partnership with the Salesforce.com Foundation, Playworks was invited to participate at Dreamforce.
Playworks’ presence at this year’s Dreamforce conference was revolutionary. The week began with a Bike Build, in which the Executive Leadership Summit – a group comprised of the top executives from the companies that Salesforce partners with – built bikes to donate to children from Playworks schools.
The combined compassion of 50 hard-working volunteers produced more than 40 shiny, new bikes in under an hour (a new bike build record!). The bikes were given away to excited children from Tenderloin Community School and Daniel Webster Elementary School. Gratification was delayed, however, until a few rounds of signature Playworks games were played with the volunteers who helped transform the dream of a new bike into a reality.
As the conference progressed, Playworks was lucky enough to be situated in the middle of all the action – literally. Located on the vibrant turf positioned between Moscone North and Moscone South, Playworks set up a playzone that attracted the attention of thousands.
The playzone featured a “Stop Bullying” graffiti wall, fun games like 4square and soccer, as well as a letter writing campaign. Hundreds of motivational and inspiring letters were written to 4th and 5th grade children to encourage youth leadership and the curtailment of bullying.
The graffiti wall was a monumental success – thousands of conference attendees stopped by to support the eradication of bullying in our schools by signing our wall of solidarity.
The success of the “Stop Bulling” wall was primarily due to the deep emotional connection fostered when an individual reflected on their experience with bullying; feelings long buried away in the sea of memories that is primary school began to bubble to the surface. Some participants recounted stories of regret, realizing that their actions could be considered bullying. Conversely, individuals who endured negative experiences were touched by the solidarity of thousands taking a stand against bullying.
The most touching moment of the day took place when a father took time to share with the Playworks staff that his autistic son often experiences bullying, and as such, it is a topic of paramount importance, “thank you for the work you do, it makes a daily difference in my home.”
Hearing that statement was extremely rewarding as it confirms that the effects of our program are not limited to a positive shift in school climate, but also in the home environment.