The 2013 Junior Coaches Leadership Convention

March 15, 2013

Is ending bullying as easy as child’s play? A few weeks ago Sport in Society partnered with Playworks to find out if facilitated recess games and cooperative play can help stop bullying in elementary schools. February 20th- 21st marked the fifth year Sport in Society worked with partner organization Playworks for the Junior Coach Leadership Convention (JCLC), an annual event for some 180 4th and 5th grade Junior Coaches. These local students descended upon the Northeastern Campus for two days of learning, leadership…and play! Through a combination of fun activities and thoughtful discussions, the young Junior Coaches learned how to advocate for a peaceful, bullying-free environment during recess and throughout the school day.

Gathered all together in the Fenway Center on the first day, each group of Junior Coaches made a banner representing their own school before moving into larger teams that combined students from around the city. Despite being from different schools, the students quickly made new friends by sharing games that they play and teach during recess; these included Doctor Dodge Ball and the Name Game. Students then began developing ideas on how Junior Coaches can help reduce bullying in their school. “What or who is a leader?” was a main discussion point. Answers ranged from “my sister…because she passed through college” to JFK. Students also discussed their own role as leaders and active bystanders on the playground, and talked about the need for leadership in ending bullying.

On the second day the Junior Coaches learned a lot more about teamwork, since to be a good leader, you have to work well in a team! In the morning, groups worked on The Tower of Power, an exercise to make the highest tower possible out of paper and tape – which was only possible through good teamwork! Junior Coaches also learned about how harmful rumors on the playground can be, and the many great intervention methods they can use as Junior Coaches to stop bullying. The day ended with a wild scavenger hunt on the Northeastern Campus, which involved drawing, chanting and many high-fives!

Sport in Society co-op Joe Rowell highlighted his experience at the JCLC in his February blog. As volunteers at the event, we SIS co-ops and interns got the opportunity to jump in the figurative sandbox with the kids and have some fun…It felt good to be around their youthful enthusiasm…they were all dedicated to [making] their schools a haven for peace and fairness.” The Junior Coaches left the convention prepared to contest bullying on playgrounds across Boston, but their commitment and passion also left an impression on everyone who came together to host this event.