Joshua Casares


He/his
AmeriCorps Program Coordinator
Philip H. Sheridan School

Joshua is a first year AmeriCorps Playworks Program Coordinator serving at Philip Sheridan Elementary School. Born in Ecuador and raised in South Jersey, Josh first came to the city of Philadelphia to study at Drexel University. Upon graduating with a bachelors in Mechanical Engineering he worked at a defense contractor for one year. He then decided that he would much rather use all the skills he has learned to serve his community in a more direct way. He joined Playworks with the goal of having a positive impact on the youth of the city and to be a role model that the kids could identify with because, as they say, “if you don’t see yourself represented outside of yourself, you just feel invisible.”

In his free time Josh loves to explore different plant based recipes, go on hikes, do calisthenics, as well as study personal development modalities in order to continue growing physically, emotionally, and spiritually. One of his favorite mottos is “To give is to receive.” 

 

Jamal Coleman


He/him
AmeriCorps Program Coordinator
Samuel W. Pennypacker School

Jamal Coleman is a Playworks coach at Pennypacker School. This is Jamal’s first year as an AmeriCorps coach and working for Playworks. Jamal first started out working for the School District of Philadelphia as a Special Education 1:1, and then became a teacher assistant. Jamal learned about Playworks through his cousin who, at the time, was working for Playworks as well. Jamal saw all of the fun work his cousin was doing within the school communities and wanted to hop on board. Once he found out Playworks was hiring, he immediately applied. 

Jamal loves helping people in many different ways and loves working with children- and what could be a better way than to do it with Playworks! Jamal enjoys traveling when he can, shopping, singing, taking pictures, and spending time with his loved ones. Jamal is thrilled to be an AmeriCorps Playworker, and is looking forward to a great year ahead. 

 

Deja Johnson


She/her
Program Coordinator
Martha Washington School

Deja is the motivated and dedicated Staff Coach who works with West Philly’s own Eagles from Martha Washington to help them understand the importance of play. 

Born and raised in Queens, New York, Deja has been empowering and inspiring kids all around the city. In August 2019, she then brought her talents to Philadelphia to continue to empower and inspire children through play with Playworks. She’s been passionate about basketball since she was 5 years old, but ultimately it was guiding and empowering children to fulfill their full potential that gave her a purpose.

Deja may not be able to walk to the store and order a baconeggandcheese, but moving from New York to Philadelphia is a decision she will never regret. While working in Philadelphia, Deja only hopes for two things: to not grow fond of the Sixers more than the Knicks and to find pizza that reminds her of home. 

 

Jake Lucas


They/them
AmeriCorps Program Coordinator
Gilbert Spruance School

Jake is a community based educator and artist based in Philly. After graduating from Drexel University, Jake has continued their work in play, creativity, education, research, and eating as many sandwiches as possible. During this past summer, Jake partnered with Fab Youth Philly to supervise Play Captains bringing play to the kids of various neighborhoods. This is their second year partnering with Playworks to bring safe and fun recess programming to Spruance Elementary.  

“Play is crucial to practicing who we want to be. I am blessed to be a source of encouragement and joy, even if that just means helping a kid tie their shoes a hundred time over. Opportunities for play get smaller and smaller as we age. I am dedicated to showing people that we can always find community, collaboration, laughter, balance, and safety within our bodies, our minds, our homes, our neighborhoods, and our schools. Playfully.”

 

Suhaylah Muhammad


She/her
AmeriCorps Program Coordinator
Lewis Elkin School

Suhaylah “Suleey” Muhammad! I have been working with kids for about 8 years and been with Playworks for 3! I am currently committed to Lewis Elkin Elementary. I attended Temple University and my work with Philadelphia’s youth began. I facilitated a youth empowerment program through poetry. I have worked closely with schools to create meaningful learning experiences for their students. I assisted several teens in getting a job and helping their community over the summer. With every year I work with kids, I realize there isn’t anything else I want to do! Super excited to continue grow in play and grow in Playworks. As a child I didn’t think recess was important, but I can honestly say play truly brings out the best in every kid. Even my inner-kid!

 

Arshay Riddick


She/her
AmeriCorps Program Coordinator
John B. Kelly School

Arshay is a devoted and compassionate individual who loves being creative and helping others express themselves through art. Based in Philadelphia, Arshay has spent the last 4 years working with children from infant to school-age. A first year AmeriCorps coach, Arshay is very excited to see what this school year brings! Arshay is currently pursuing her bachelor’s degree in Biotechnology at Jefferson University.

In her free time, Arshay enjoys ample amounts of self-care techniques, painting, drawing, and studying.

 

Anthony Wayne


He/him
Program Coordinator
Samuel Powel School

Ant is a fun and easy going person who loves sports, physical activity as well as working with children. So to work with children and to be able to actively engage them with physical activity is a win win for him. 

Ant is from Norristown PA and went on to spend four years at Cabrini University to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science and Health Promotion in 2019. His passion for sports started at 5 years old when he began playing organized baseball. Other sports that he loves include basketball and football, which he both enjoys watching and playing. To teach young children the importance of safe and healthy play is very important to Ant because at a young age he had a teacher do the same for him, which helped grow his passion for sports and physical activity – and played a major role is what he is doing today.

 

Dayanna Willis


She/her
AmeriCorps Program Coordinator


Dayanna (Day) Willis is a first year Playworks Program Coordinator who works with various Philadelphia schools to create safe, fun, and healthy recess environments. As a Philadelphia native, with a nurturing nature, Dayanna is dedicated to empowering and molding the minds of the youth within the community she lives.   

Dayanna holds a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Elementary Education Pre-K-4 from Kutztown University. Throughout her college experience Dayana gained work related skills while working for a daycare, camp, and after-school programs. She has 4 years of teaching experience across grades 3rd-5th, teaching multiple subjects. Dayanna is thrilled to share her experiences and dedication while in her role at Playworks. She looks forward to a great 2021-2022 school year.