Rock star coaches from across the country brought fun and games to the recess yards of Cincinnati

A week of play, including new games, fun attention-getters, rock-paper-scissors to solve conflicts and smooth transitions, brought big smiles to the faces of students, parents and staff in Cincinnati, Ohio. Eight coaches returned each day with incredible stories. Here are just a few:

Coach Kellie, from Detroit, MI, first day at school started well:
On my first day, I pulled a group of students over to the four square area to play Switch. I was followed by a huge group of students. One girl made a conscious effort of mentioning even before we got over to the court that she was “just going to be an observer.” She sat while I taught the others the rules to the game. I certainly got the impression that this particular student was used to being left out and therefore had begun to choose being left alone. She made a point of showing me a drawing she was working on and mentioning that she “wasn’t really a sports person.”

I told her that it’s best to do what you like which seems to be art for her, but I’m not really a sports person either. I just like to learn new things because it makes me feel good.

With time she slowly put her drawing down and joined in the game. Since it was Switch, nobody said “out” or picked on anyone for messing up and high fives were being given all around as usual.

Later that afternoon I picked up my next group of students for Class Game Time. And there she was. For the following half hour I have never seen someone throw themselves into enjoying something so much as I did her. It even surprised the other students. They began asking questions like, “Why is she playing so hard?” and “What is she doing?” I simply said “She’s trying as hard as possible to have as much fun as she can and I think that’s awesome.”

During each game, she “played hard” and most importantly–with a huge smile on her face. On her way back in to the school she said, “Thanks so much for all the fun today, Coach Kellie.” I smiled back and told her “You’re welcome, but I’ll be here all week so there’s plenty more where that came from. Are you up for learning even more games tomorrow?” Without any hesitation she lit up and exclaimed, “Of course! Awesome!”

Having been a lot like this particular student myself growing up, it was such a great experience to see the power of play bring out newfound self-confidence and joy to someone like her. It makes me wish there had been something like Playworks for me growing up, but instead of dwelling on that I am just honored to have the opportunity to be part of the mission of sharing this great program with as many kids as I can reach out to.

We were excited to hear a paraprofessional at Academy of World Langauges tell us: “It’s been really great, we’ve LEARNED a lot!  Now we’re going to try and implement it!”

The kids, of course, are the most important judges of our work. One sixth grade said, “Im gonna play this game everyday. Watch your back Tag is the best game ever!!! We can play it whenever, wherever”

Coach Melissa, from Oakland, Calif, told us about her third day:
I had a great breakthrough today at my school.  One of the lunch time aides had stopped into my classroom game time and learned how to play wallball.  All the kids were amazed when she started playing with them.  She was laughing and having a great time with the kids too.  To be honest, it is the biggest smile on an adult face I had seen all week.  I thanked her for coming to the class and invited her to play with recess.  She agreed.  She did such a great job playing with the kids that I left her in charge of that station and went to play a new game with some other kids.  After recess she asked to download our entire playbook.  Today was hugely successful!


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