Bucks Hosts 350 Playworks Junior Coaches From 22 Schools for Playworks’ Leadership Conference

  1. Updates

After a year of participating in the Playworks Junior Coach Leadership Program, 350 fourth- and fifth-graders from 22 Milwaukee Public Schools and Waukesha Public Schools gathered at the BMO Harris Bradley Center on Friday, June 2, for Playworks Wisconsin's annual Junior Coach Leadership Conference. This year, it was hosted by the Milwaukee Bucks.

Students attending the conference completed a year’s worth of after-school leadership training while gaining experience in leading younger kids through Playworks’ Junior Coach Leadership Program. Milwaukee Bucks legend Vin Baker and Playworks CEO and Founder Jill Vialet addressed the students to stress their importance as future leaders.

Playworks’ programs, including the Junior Coach Leadership Program, work to improve the well-being of children through play, and by building social and emotional skills that are critical for success in school and life.

According to Playworks Wisconsin's 2015-2016 Annual Survey of partner school staff:

  • 92% of teachers with Junior Coaches in their classroom reported an improvement in Junior Coaches' leadership skills;
  • 86% of teachers with Junior Coaches in their classroom reported an improvement in Junior Coaches' teamwork abilities;
  • 82% of teachers with Junior Coaches in their classroom reported an improvement in Junior Coaches' abilities to resolve conflicts.

“In working with community partners, one of the key factors the Bucks look for is measurable outcomes,” said Alicia Dupies, Bucks Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility. “Playworks' ability to work with each school to help improve social-emotional learning is really important–the data speaks for itself. We’ve spent a lot of time in MPS schools leveraging Playworks programming and we consistently see inclusion, the ability to use conflict resolution strategies, and leadership in their fourth- and fifth-graders who participate in the Junior Coach Leadership Program.”

During the leadership conference, students also showcased games they created themselves that proactively solve problems by using positive language. One of those students, Chivia, a student at Franklin Pierce Elementary School, received the Playworks Junior Coach of the Year Award for her efforts to proactively resolve conflicts using games and positive language.

“A unique part of the Playworks approach to empowering leadership in students is a purposeful selection of students who represent varying degrees of readiness,” said Deborah Lukovich, Playworks Wisconsin Executive Director. “We do not just invite students who are already rising to the top, but also invite students who are likely to fall through the cracks, and the transformation of these kids is remarkable.”

“We are thankful for the support of the Milwaukee Bucks and look forward to deepening our relationship with an organization that is so important to Milwaukee,” said Playworks board member Brad Zepecki.

Bucks mascot, Bango, along with members of the Bucks Entertainment Network, were also present at Friday’s conference to congratulate the Junior Coaches on graduating from this year’s leadership program.

More Updates


December 15, 2020

Top 6 Games to Play Virtually ›

Many educators have risen to the challenge of transitioning their lessons to accommodate virtual education, and Playworks has been helping educators ensure play remains in every child’s day, even online. Kids prioritize play, and with our support educators are leveraging play when teaching virtually in order to keep kids engaged, active, and to build community.…

December 9, 2020

UnitedHealthcare Continues Playing by Teaming Up with Playworks ›

UnitedHealthcare employees transitioned to full time telecommuting as a precautionary measure in March of 2020 when Covid 19 began to take hold across the Country. Like our kids, many employees were feeling isolated, scared and stressed. In addition to daily responsibilities at work, many were now also trying to help teach their children at home.…

December 9, 2020

Milwaukee Bucks and Johnson Controls Extend Grants for 3 Additional Years ›

Earlier this year the Milwaukee Bucks and Johnson Controls furthered their commitment to Playworks by extending their annual grant for an additional three years. In 2017, the Bucks and Johnson Controls partnered to provide funds for a multi-sport complex at Browning Elementary School, which is located in Milwaukee’s Westlawn neighborhood. At that time, they also…