Invigorating Start to Summer with Playworks Get in the Game Luncheon

Dear Friends,

The Playworks Get in the Game Luncheon and Junior Coach Carnival left me excited for the future of Milwaukee! These events are small reminders that the work we do through collaboration and sharing of best practices gives our kids opportunities to learn, grow and lead. Children are truly the future and if we’re able to give them access to programs that focus on their social, emotional and physical needs, they will be positive leaders. Study after study proves that organized play time increases engagement in the classroom, improves the school’s climate and creates a safe and effective environment. That is exactly what Playworks Wisconsin strives to do!

Each child wants to feel included, safe and engaged during recess time. Unfortunately, studies show that kids feel the exact opposite when recess begins. That is where Playworks steps in! Their vision is to empower schools to use play to transform school climate by developing children’s social, emotional and physical health – critical drivers in academic success. “Each year research supports the importance of social-emotional health not only for youth but also for adults. A recent Journal of Health review found that the social-emotional competencies of kindergartners are better predictors of high school and college graduation as well as full-time employment by age 25. It is imperative that we create environments for youth, either at school, at home, or in the community, that develop the social, emotional, and physical well-being of each child. That means we as adults must be social, emotionally, and physically well in order to be the people that our youth need”, says Carolyn Muckelberg, Development Manager at Playworks Wisconsin.

During the Get in the Game Luncheon, three adorable Junior Coaches were honored and able to speak on the impact that Playworks has had in their life. One coach mentioned how shy and quiet she was before becoming a coach - now she is outgoing, learning each day and creates an all-inclusive environment for her peers. Another coach expressed that he enjoys being a leader, and is happy there is an environment with no judgment. Guests were also given a packet titled “What is the Playworks Junior Coach Leadership Program” where junior coaches were able to illustrate what they do and why it’s important to them. Many coaches expressed that they loved playing with the kids, helping those in need, teaching their peers how to solve problems and how to share.

“Every kid has super powers that can be used for positive or negative behaviors on the playground,” says Carolyn. “The Junior Coach Leadership Program is important because it helps kids hone their superpowers for good. By giving kids a voice and responsibilities, we see them meet and exceed expectations every day. "Helping little kids" is the number one response when asked about their favorite part of JCLP. The little kids these junior coaches are helping have a near-peer role model at school. While adult role models are important, adulthood is a long way off. Junior Coach is an attainable leadership position for 2nd and 3rd graders to strive for as a short-term goal. The most important thing is that we are giving kids the opportunity to be contributors and catalysts for positive change in their school communities. JCLP achieves three goals: developing youth leaders, supporting Playworks programming, and serving as positive role models for younger students.”

Since Playworks launched programming in Wisconsin schools: 95% of staff agree that Playworks improves overall school climate; 97% of staff report an increase in the number of students engaged in healthy play at recess; 81% decrease of playground conflicts spilling into the classroom; 96% increase of students’ level of participation in academic activities; 91% increase in students’ use of conflict resolution strategies; and 83% decrease in the number of bullying incidents. These statistics are proof that Playworks changes the climate in schools, learning opportunities for kids, and outcomes in the classroom and playground.

With help from the Milwaukee Succeeds Funders Collaborative, Playworks is now able to focus on adult training and implement strategies for student engagement, creating a safe space and fostering a healthy culture. These adults will then use the skills they’ve learned in training to teach other members of school staff how to execute a successful Playworks program and organize recess. This includes building positive school climates, clear boundaries, and creating games for students during their free time. Carolyn says, “Playworks' aim in Wisconsin is to impact 100,000 kids in 200 schools by 2020. That represents roughly 10% of all elementary aged kids in our state. This is not something that Playworks can do alone and this funding allows us to equip more teachers and adults working in schools with the skills and resources to positively impact their school climate with safe and healthy play. Playworks has been doing this work for over 20 years across the country and we are extremely grateful to Milwaukee Succeeds for recognizing the power of play and investing in our partnership with MPS to unleash this positive force for every school and every kid.”

We are honored to help move this programming forward and reach as many schools as we can within Milwaukee.


See you soon,

Danae

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