This June, I had the opportunity to visit a Playworks recess at Jason Lee School in Portland, where I learned about the support Playworks provides to my community. As Head Coach for the US Olympic Snowboarding & Freeskiing Teams, Halfpipe & Slopestyle, I found myself intrigued by the coaching mechanisms being created and taught by Playworks. Playworks is unique because the organization trains young adults to serve as coaches at recess in schools, and then they also train elementary-school children to be Junior Coaches at recess. What Playworks is doing is building a generation of young leaders, empowering students to improve their lives and those of their peers through safe, inclusive play.
As the newest Laureus Ambassador, I’m proud to join forces with Playworks to promote play for every kid. Laureus USA is committed to strengthening sport for development organizations to allow them to improve social, health and education outcomes for youth from under-resourced communities. It is for this reason that we have chosen to provide a substantial grant to Playworks, specifically working in Phoenix, Detroit, Minneapolis, Houston and my home of Portland.
On September 25 I’ll join Jill Vialet, CEO and founder of Playworks, to speak about leadership to a group of Junior Coaches from Portland’s Grout Elementary School. They’re joining me on Mt. Hood, my home away from home. As we look up the mountain, we see athletes competing in individual sports like skiing and snowboarding but participating as one cohesive team and nation. Our athletes from the US Olympic team understand how an inclusive, team mindset can help them achieve more as they learn from other members of the team. Playworks Junior Coaches teach this same idea to peers on the playground. These fourth- and fifth-graders will model games, involve their classmates in those games, resolve conflicts, and ensure that the playground is a safe environment for every kid.
I’m excited Laureus USA has chosen to fund Playworks in Portland and beyond. I look forward to seeing the investment shape the lives of our local kids for the better.