Of all the great things Playworks has implemented into a school filled with 1200 students; one story, in particular, personifies Playworks’ mission and the reason we are increasing in size every year. At the beginning of the school year, I met a student who was competitive in every possible sport on the school yard. Darren Long was known as the kid who could jump higher, run faster, and kick the ball harder than any kid at the school. Though I was impressed by his athletic ability, I was shocked that he was so confrontational with most of his classmates. He was so competitive that his performance on the field spilled into the classroom through bragging about what he could do in comparison to other kids. His comments were “If Mike couldn't stop me out there: no one here can stop me". These kind of comments started arguments and created a "Darren versus everyone else" mentality.
So as a result, I felt Darren would benefit from the Junior Coach program and offered him a Junior Coach position. Within a couple of weeks, his responsibility as a Junior Coach gave Darren a sense of purpose. Almost immediately Darren went from someone who wants to beat you, to someone who wants to help you. He started leading games and teaching his fellow students tips and tricks on how to master each game. Several students listened to Darren since he was already known for his athletic abilities on campus. He was able to help students improve and build skills. For example, students who couldn't catch a football, now could. Those who couldn't dribble a basketball were playing full court games. It was amazing to see the “I versus everyone else” mentality melt away and watch him turn into the “teacher” at recess. Even today, Darren continues to be one of my best Junior Coaches. Thanks to the Junior Coach program, he is no longer arguing with everyone and has become a mentor instead of a competitor. This is only a snap shot of the many great things Playworks provides to every school.