Playworks Turns Kids into Peer Counselors on the Playground

Playworks pic

Playworks
Image: playworks.org

Neill Sullivan is the founder of Sullivan Management Company and REO Homes, both headquartered in Oakland, California. Neill Sullivan and his companies are heavily involved in local charity and regularly contribute to important civic projects. Mr. Sullivan recently contributed funds to support the new Playworks program at Prescott Elementary School in West Oakland.

Playworks, an anti-bullying program, is now in full swing at more than 350 elementary schools in the United States. The program calls on exceptional students in the upper grades, asking them to become ambassadors to their peers during recess. These “junior coaches” keep an eye on their peers, and look for trouble.

If a conflict pops up on the playground, junior coaches help their peers and younger schoolmates resolve differences without name calling or violence. When someone is being treated unfairly or singled out, coaches help them feel included. Student coaches also do their part to encourage exercise and physical activity on the playground.

Some participating schools are reporting significant improvements to student conduct during recess. Administrators report a modest increase in physical activity and say that disciplinary referrals during recess have declined markedly.

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