Richard was a fifth grade student at Scott school when I met him. He would withdraw from social activities in the classroom and rarely interacted with this peer groups. He learned to deal with his social anxiety by disappearing from school and being invisible.
I would see Richard at recess and class game, but he had an immensely hard time socializing and using his free time in a productive way.
At first, I was stumped on how to handle the situation Richard presented. I thought if I could get Richard involved in Playworks then he could connect with his peer groups. My initial attempts to get him active and participating were going nowhere. Richard refused to join any games and didn’t want to engage in his everyday classes. With time, I got to understand his difficulties. It took patience, consistency, and constant reassurance from Richard’s teachers, classmates and me.
Through Playworks, I helped create a safe environment for Richard. I created opportunities for him take risks and showed him the rewarding aspects that Playworks and school provided him. His involvement in Playworks and school was slow, but as the year progressed he developed coping skills and learned how to interact with his peers in a positive way. By the end of the school year, Richard was taking part in his classes and joined the Playwork’s flag football team.
Richard is now a sixth grader at Scott School. One of the first things he did was sign up for my after school soccer group. On the first day of soccer group Richard asked me, “Coach C, you know why I’m here?
”I asked why and he replied, “So I can spend more time outside being active, instead of sitting inside playing video games. I also thought I could meet some new friends.”
The transformation I have seen with Richard over the past year has been one of the most unexpected and wonderful things I have witnessed in all of my years working with youth. I have no doubt that Playworks played a large role in his growth and development.