Nine Waggener Edstrom Worldwide (WE) employees in Portland, Ore., were inspired by their Boston colleagues’ ongoing support of Playworks, a U.S. nonprofit organization that transforms schools by providing play and physical activity at recess and throughout the school day. Our Portland team decided to take a break from “business as usual” to volunteer with Playworks at a local elementary school.
On Tuesday, March 19, our team met up at Scott School dressed to connect, play and have fun with colleagues and students. We experienced Playworks Portland via a “mini corporate recess program” professionally led by Monica Brewer, an inspiring Playworks associate, and supervised by Playworks Executive Director Jonathan Blasher. The two-hour program combined team building and training by having team members play games with one another and students at recess.
After “getting our game on” with a variety of ice breakers, we learned about safe and inclusive physical activities by playing a games such as Everyone’s It Tag (with “butterfly fingers”) and Switch (including the simple conflict-resolution tool of Rock Paper Scissors). We then joined Coach C and several junior coaches to participate in an hour of recess with more than 400 K-5th grade students.
Personally, I treasured the opportunities to interact directly with the kids and experience them having safe fun with one another. When I was invited to join an intense game of wall ball, one student told the other kids to “go easy” on me. It was also super encouraging to see Rock Paper Scissors successfully applied to resolve in-the-moment conflict. Here are feedback snippets from other WE volunteers:
“Thanks @PlayworksPDX for bringing recess back to the schools and reminding everyone how important it is to play!!” — Dani Reese
“I loved learning about the unique angle and perspective a nonprofit was taking to help engage and improve our youth. I think it’s so important, and it was fun to be a part of it and see the potential kids have firsthand.” — Holly Roe
“An amazing social venture. I got to revisit my inner 6-year-old! It was cold but pretty powerful and a lot of fun. I liked the training and how they apply the principles to students. The junior coaches were awesome!” — Rhian Rotz
Playworks Portland reduces bullying by bringing safe, meaningful and inclusive play to 5,500 students via full-day onsite programming in 13 low-income Portland public elementary schools. The organization also provides recess training, support and technical assistance to 60 schools in the Pacific Northwest. Watch this 1.5 minutes video to hear directly from the students. Research shows that healthy play and recess help students succeed in the classroom, and Playworks builds play as a cornerstone of the school day.