Why Kids Like Clinton Need Mentors

With a little encouragement, Clinton became a leader on the playground.

Last year I had a student, Clinton, who was pretty challenging. He was constantly being put on the fence by his teachers because of something he did in class or at lunch. He could be disrespectful to other kids, didn’t want to participate in games and was hard to get through to. He had some discipline problems, and I was sometimes asked to take him out of class to talk with him.

Over the year, I spent a lot of time with Clinton, talking about football and other things that he loved. I took him to other class game times so he could work more closely with other students doing team games. I thought the personal attention might help. It didn’t work right away, but he gradually began to improve.

When the kids are cooped up inside, they tend to have a different attitude than when they’re playing outdoors, and it’s not always good. One rainy day the kids were doing puzzle games inside and I realized that Clinton was turning into “mini me.” I walked up during a disagreement a few kids were having, and there was Clinton. Rather than being negative or saying “shut up” or yelling, he was managing the conflict and doing a good job.

Clinton is back at my school this year, and he’s grown up a lot. He’s always the first one out the door at recess volunteering to lead games. He leads the loudest cheers and always asks to help. Someday, he’ll end up being a Playworks Junior Coach.

Clinton is one of those kids that Playworks really benefits. He’s now realizing his potential and getting compliments and confidence. With this program, kids like Clinton learn to step their game up and realize they can take responsibility both on and off the playground. He is one of my big successes, and a reason I continue to work for Playworks.

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