It was the first week of school at 6th Avenue Elementary in Los Angeles, California! The sun was beaming down on the massive schoolyard and every student from Pre-Kindergarten to fifth grade was ready to begin a new year.
Even though this is the third year that the school has had Playworks, I am their new coach. I greeted the students with high fives and smiles at their before school program. We had kickball, basketball, handball, jump rope, and four square occurring simultaneously. As I drifted in and out of games on the yard, I eventually made it to handball; a game that I had seen played as an adolescent but never participated in. As soon as I got there, students shouted, “ Hey Coach!, Are you going to play with us today?!” I responded apprehensively, “Sure I’d like to play, but I need someone to teach me how.” Kylinn, a fifth grader, piped up and said, “I didn’t know how to play handball when I was new here but someone taught me and now I’m a pro! We can teach you how to play coach. Don’t worry!” Each morning since then, I have visited the handball court for my daily lesson and to encourage my students to continue their exemplary teaching skills.
After being at the school for only eight days, students have demonstrated some of the core values that each program coordinator strives to instill in the children they serve. Inclusion, healthy community, healthy play, and respect are life long values that can be shared amongst people no matter what age they may be. My experience with handball and the students at 6th Avenue has already made me feel welcome. It has also proven that the service Playworks provides does not only help build character in students but is food for the soul as well.