I’m often asked to come up with “real examples” of children who have beneffited from our program. Of course, the most dramatic ones are kids who have previously been challenging and unruly on the playground and have gone through an extraordinary transition. While we hear the most about them and they do make for compelling stories, they don’t really represent the full potential of a positive playground experience.
Our schools are filled with students like Keon, featured on Good Morning America. Keon is a good kid. He has great support at home and is a solid student. His challenge, though, is that he can be shy and sometimes falls apart when things get overwhelming. When he’s thrown off his game on the playground, he’s thrown out of balance in the classroom.
But Keon is also a leader. Tapped as a Playworks junior coach, he’s learned how to deal with conflict and adversity through play. And he’s hitting his stride, finding his potential. He’s happier, better able to handle his life and enjoys school even more. His mom says he even resolves conflicts between his siblings now.
And there’s Angela, a bright but shy girl uncomfortable speaking up in class even though she usually knows the answer. Finding her voice playing basketball in a Playworks league, she has blossomed into a confident young lady who only hesitates a bit before standing up to answer. But she knows she can do it, something she didn’t know before.
There are hundreds of thousands of Keons and Angelas in our schools – really terrific kids who lie between the confident, self-assured high-achievers and the more challenging students. If we create a welcoming playground environment and inspire them to play and socialize with their peers, they can make greater strides. If we can just reach out a little bit to get them in the game, we can use the transformative power of play to make their schools, their lives, a bit more successful.
How do you see a great recess and playground experience helping kids beyond the playground?