During AmeriCorps Week, we like to acknowledge and thank our members who are doing incredible things in our communities. Monica “Coach M” Martinez is one of our coaches making a big impact.
As an AmeriCorps member and Playworks coach serving her second term at Dolland Elementary in Norwalk, California (the elementary school that she actually attended as a student), Coach M’s has seen her amazing efforts pay off on the playground!
Here’s Coach M reflecting on her service year:
When we say that we use the power of play to address the social and emotional needs of students, sometimes we fail to recognize how grand that power truly is. I have seen the power of play transcend gender, race, socioeconomic status, and physical limitations/abilities.
Recently, our playground and students gave a warm welcome to triplets who moved from Vietnam. Every day, the students did their best to ensure the triplets were safe, happy, and integrated into our school community. It was amazing to see how students put into practice all they learned during Class Game Time, the Junior Coach Leadership Program, and other Playworks activities. The compassion and amiability the students demonstrated filled my heart with hope and joy. However, it wasn’t that experience that struck me by surprise. I was amazed to see how, for the first time, the power of play overcame language barriers.
Because the triplets had not yet learned English, the students communicated with them the best way they knew how—through play. With every high-five and “good job, nice try,” the triplets smiled and laughed. Very quickly they learned that ro-sham-bo was the easiest way to figure out if they were out of the game even when they thought otherwise.
The first few words they learned and exchanged with their new friends on the playground were “high-five” and “good job, nice try” and as of today, they have learned how to play over 30 recess games!
I am proud to say that Playworks helped create a safe and fun learning environment for these three sisters!
Interested in becoming a Playworks Coach?