Empowerment through PLAY equals fun (and resilience)

St Kilda Park Primary School's Assistance Principal shares her experience with the Resilient Youth PLAY Program. In short, she loves it, kids love it, PLAY Leaders love it, parents love it. And all that love is on top of the incredible benefits of this empowering, resilience-building program.

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Where

St Kilda Park Primary School, Melbourne, Victoria

Background

Approximately 20 students participated in the training day and absolutely loved it! They had a great day and were keen to start the program. We sort of just jumped in – we didn’t really plan it down to the last detail, as we felt it would just evolve as it went on.

We started with all levels mixed together, but it was too hard as their needs were quite different and the groups were quite large. Now we run a Junior (F-2) session on Monday lunchtimes and a Senior (3-6) session on Wednesday lunchtime. Some PLAY Leaders do both sessions, others have chosen one to be involved with .F-2 participants tend to bunch in groups of about 8-10 kids – we usually get about 40-50 attending, and they select which Play Leader or game they want to play.

Students play simple games and run themselves ragged over the lunch break. The 3-6 participants play more complicated games in a whole group – we get 20-30 in that session. The PLAY Leaders use a whistle with the older kids, otherwise they struggle to be heard. I try to meet with all the leaders once a month or so in a group, to debrief, share ideas, investigate more games, etc.

The leaders all wear pink fluorescent vests with PLAY Leader written on the back and they look great! They are easily recognisable and it makes yard duty easier as the teachers know which students are with this program. We play in a different part of the park, so that we are separate to the other students.

Results

We do not have our 2017 survey results yet, but anecdotally there have been some interesting outcomes. The PLAY Leaders themselves feel part of something important and have grown in their ability to lead with positivity and confidence. They plan and organise the sessions themselves and are developing good relationships with the younger students. Both Junior and Senior sessions attract all kinds of students, but I have noticed that those kids who find it difficult to join into games independently are turning up every week.

I go outside with the PLAY Leaders during both sessions, it is one of my favourite things to do each week. The junior group needs no intervention from me at all, apart from reminders to keep them moving, the senior group sometimes needs a little help with crowd control or disputes over rules!

Thanks so much for helping us to set it up. Kids are loving it, PLAY Leaders love it, parents love it and I love it.

Kerry Bates
Assistant Principal
St Kilda Park Primary School (SKiPPS)