Playworks PacNW in Fairbanks Alaska

  1. Updates

Playworks services, tailored for rural community needs.

This Spring, every Title I school in the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District had the opportunity to experience the power of play. Playworks trainers spent time modeling, coaching, and action planning recess programming at each school. They also supported the schools in launching the Junior Coach youth leadership program, in which older students lead games and solve conflicts on the playground.

In a matter of weeks, Playworks programming reached 1,845 students. 

Alaska is unique. Trainers reached deep into their toolkits to find snow boots and food coloring. According to Program Specialist Nicole Navlet, “Implementing games in the snow requires some creativity, but is completely possible. We used water/food coloring to designate lines on the playground so we could still implement games on a four square court, and this worked surprisingly well!” Navlet worked tirelessly with the Denali Elementary staff and students to create a sustainable program that met the community’s needs. 

Trainers taught games across the area such as Rock It Out Tag, Switch, and All-Star Basketball. These games allow students spaces to practice conflict resolution tools and engage positively with their peers. Yet, playing Rock, Paper, Scissors is hard when you’re wearing mittens! Casey Gackle worked with the adults at Hunter Elementary to brainstorm solutions, “The awesome, creative modification was using a different body movement to replace rock, paper and scissors such as a hand on the head, shoulders, or knees!”

At Anne Wein Elementary, Marie DeShetler saw empowerment in action on the playground. She was impressed by, “How empowered students were to take leadership over their own recess. Staff enabled this feeling of empowerment by leading restorative conversations amongst students. The minute students were released for recess, they had a plan for play. When conflict arose during a game, students demonstrated the skills to problem solve with one another or ask staff for support.”

Running successful Playworks programming at a school is a lot to take on. Trainers picked up on dedication to creating access to positive play spaces across the Fairbanks community. Navlet continued, “Staff were superstars at being playful and stepping into games with students! Our recess manager did a great job taking on the role of Junior Coach Program Coordinator!” Implementing Playworks’ curriculum, the schools will support ongoing leadership development for students enrolled in the program. 

In the rural school community of Salcha Elementary, Mary Anna Adams shared her excitement for collaboration with students, staff, and families. “I was most impressed by the close-knit community…” Adams continued, “…not only were the staff and administration incredibly engaged and supportive of Playworks programming, but I was able to meet parents, siblings, and family members at the Playworks Family Night. Our Junior Coaches used their new skills to teach games to their family members, and parents of our Junior Coaches came up multiple times to share how impactful the program has been for their child, even in such a short amount of time.” 

In another rural school community, Paige Evans, a Program Manager, saw dedicated middle schoolers supporting elementary students in the role of Junior Coach in Two Rivers. While we most often implement this program with the support of 4th and 5th graders, we know that not every school has the same needs. Evans expounded the value in this case, “ …[Junior Coaches] were confident and empowered to step into their roles. On day one, I saw Junior Coaches doing attention getters, leading large group games at recess, cleaning up equipment, and really thinking about their roles as leaders. One Junior Coach said after supporting a younger-grade PE class, ‘Wow, I feel good in this purple shirt!’ Another student, who was on the shyer side, said ‘I really surprised myself this week!’”

Our team loved being able to support the unique needs of the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District, and seeing the #PowerofPlay spreading nationally.

We want to help bring Playworks to your community. Connect with us for a free 15 minute strategy call, to find the right service for your school.

More Updates

March 4, 2024

Playworks at the National Elementary and Secondary Act Conference ›

This year, Playworks Pacific NW was invited to be a spotlight presenter and facilitator at the National Elementary and Secondary Act (ESEA) conference. The conference spanned four days, and included…

January 24, 2024

Indoor Recess Transition Plan ›

From snow and cold to rain, smog, and everything in between, weather can throw a wrench in your outdoor recess plans. When inclement weather strikes, transitioning to indoor play can…

December 18, 2023

Playworks recognized as a NYSS Champion ›

Playworks becomes an NYSS Champion Playworks is pleased to be recognized by the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services…