2024 Junior Coach Leadership Conference

  1. Updates

On April 10, 2024, Playworks Wisconsin hosted our 12th Annual Junior Coach Leadership Conference sponsored by the Greater Milwaukee Foundation at Marquette University. The event brought together over 1,000 students from across the state to celebrate the impact of their leadership on the playground. The energy on the Marquette Campus was electric as Junior Coaches for different schools met each other for the first time.

Every Playworks school has a team of 20 to 40 Junior Coaches who serve as game leaders and community builders on the playground and in the classroom. The 4th through 8th grade program participants attend monthly training led by their Playworks Coach. At these trainings, the Junior Coaches learn how to facilitate games, positively resolve conflicts, and model good sporting behavior. Then the Junior Coaches take to the playground on their weekly shift where they lead games and model good sporting behavior for the younger students at the school. After a whole year of service to their school community, these leaders deserved an epic celebration! 

The Junior Coach Conference took place at Marquette University’s Al McGuire Center and the Memorial Union. The attendees participated in a variety of activities which included creating thank you cards for their supporters, friendship bracelets for their team, and, of course, a LOT of games! Their adult chaperones got in the game too with a basketball challenge to win their kids snacks for the ride home. Music was a big part of this year’s event with kids creating an album cover that represented their Junior Coach squad and, with the help of Milwaukee’s own: DJ Penny, pop tunes amplified the energy throughout the day. 

While this is the last year for some of our Junior Coaches, they have had a huge impact on their school community that can reverberate even after they have gone on to high school as a Wisconsin Teacher points out:

“Our current junior coaches have not known elementary school without Playworks. Our current fifth graders were kindergarteners when we started our Playworks partnership, and many have been dreaming of being a Junior Coach since they were 5 years old. We have Junior Coaches who, when they were younger, really struggled with self-regulation, self confidence and conflict resolution, and are now leading students in younger grades, demonstrating such growth and confidence as student leaders. I was sharing a memory of one of our former junior coaches with a current 4th grade junior coach, and he said, ‘She is the reason I am a junior coach!’ The positive impact students can have on each other – and the positive relationships formed through this program is priceless!”

Great leaders and true game changers inspire others to step up. Because of their amazing work, our Junior Coaches ensured that every kid at their school could see themselves in the game and as a leader in their school community. We couldn’t be more excited to see what they do next!

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