Story from the Playground: Coach Blake

  1. Updates

Playworks Junior Coaches help our coaches facilitate recess, but more importantly, they learn how to lead, resolve conflicts, problem solve, and model positive behavior. Playworks Junior Coach Leadership Program gives students a new sense of purpose and provides them with the resources to discover their best selves. Coach Blake explains how the Junior Coach Leadership Program improved one student's behavior and connection to the school community. 


 A student, who I will call John, is a third grader who is new to the school and a year older than most of his classmates. In the beginning of the school year, I was able to have him out at recess with me or in charge of the equipment. He was labeled as the “bad kid” and in the “bad class” by some of the students. Unfortunately, his poor behavior in class was resolved by having him skip recess.

His teacher, the school’s resource team, and I worked together on a way to maximize his time with positivity. John does very well whenever he is with me, so I thought it would be a good idea to make him a Junior Coach. However, Junior Coaches are traditionally for fourth and fifth graders only, so I created the Freshman Coach position as an opportunity for third graders to contribute to their school through leadership.

Freshman Coaches are allowed to “work” before school recess if they are exhibiting good leadership skills. I saw this as a great opportunity for John. I talked to him and his teacher about the conditions to which he can participate and how excited I was to have him join. He has been with me for two days and I can already see an improvement in his choices and attitude. John thrives when he has responsibilities and tasks to complete. According to one of his resource teachers, John comes to her after recess excited and proud of being a Freshman Coach. I am so happy that he enjoys being a Freshman Coach, and that it is positively impacting him. I can not wait to see how he grows the rest of the year.

More Updates


A boy and girl holding basketballs on a playground.
A boy and girl holding basketballs on a playground.

November 16, 2022

2021-22 Annual Report ›

We are excited to share with you a look back at everything we accomplished in the 2021-2022 program year. It was a year focused on rebuilding after the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and we are proud to share that we served 41,200 students in the Northern California Region.  We are thankful for your continued…

three people with Playworks shirts
three people with Playworks shirts

July 28, 2022

A year of social and emotional learning ›

“You can’t do SEL, trauma, or equity work without each other,” Jennette Claassen, Head of Evaluation, Playworks. As Playworks continued to progress on our equity journey, we explored a critical question: what are the intersections between play, social and emotional learning, physical activity, and trauma? A working group focused on this question decided, among other…

April 5, 2022

Golden State Warriors Community Foundation & Salesforce partner with Playworks ›

Check out this inspiring video showcasing Playworks Northern California’s continued partnership with the Warriors Community Foundation and Salesforce during the 2021-22 school year. Playworks has delivered safe and healthy play to over 30,000 elementary school children of promise in Northern California this year. We are grateful for their support of this important work!