One area of focus for Wheelock College Aspire Institute is supporting the success and healthy development of children. Through Aspire Institute, The Teacher Support Project was established with the mission to inspire, support, prepare, and retain generations of educators. On January 30, 2016, twenty Teacher Support Project mentors and eleven teachers were welcomed by The Life Is Good Kids Foundation to their Boston headquarters to participate in The Playmaker Movement Workshop.
According to the Life Is Good Kids Foundation’s website, a playmaker is defined as someone who spreads the power of optimism to children who desperately need it. This workshop is geared towards child educators and aims to provide them with the knowledge and tools necessary to create the most loving, safe, and engaging learning environment possible for the children in their care who have suffered from early childhood trauma. Life Is Good Kids Foundation believes that in order to provide the best learning experience for vulnerable children, it is imperative to support those that care for them; a goal that is closely aligned with our mission at Aspire Institute. The objective of this training is to inspire childhood educators to spread optimism among children who desperately need to be reached.
Mora Owens, Aspire Institute’s Program Manager of Equity and Access in Education, initiated the relationship between The Life Is Good Kids Foundation and Aspire Institute. She, along with the group of mentors and teachers, attended the Playmaker Workshop. Ms. Owens oversaw the success and implementation of the different teaching tools being provided to participants. Prior to working with Aspire on the Teacher Support Project, Ms. Owens was a teacher herself, working with students at the first grade level for nearly five years. Ms. Owens found the partnership with Life Is Good Kids Foundation to be extremely beneficial to the teacher participants and felt as though the partnership continues to support the work that Aspire Institute is doing. She states that mentors and teachers were exposed to methods that would help them bring joy into the classroom while following the appropriate teaching standards . At the completion of the workshop, there was an additional day of training that was optional for participants, and follow-up practices were in place to discuss the success of the program and how helpful it was to each teacher. The participants in the Playmaker Workshop found the experience to be rewarding. One mentor was quoted, saying they benefited from being “exposed to innovative and effective programs like the […] Playmakers Workshop.”
Many children are fortunate enough to be born into loving, attentive, and encouraging families, that have additional support from friends and the community.. Other children are not as lucky; there may not be any loving parental figures at home, or they may have been subjected to other tragic circumstances . Every child needs someone to advocate for them, to watch over them, and to see to it that they have the best possible life. Every child needs a Playmaker; a caring adult who is dedicated to supporting the healthy development of the children they teach and care for. Traumatic events tend to have a severe impact on a child’s social and emotional development. Unlike older children, younger children cannot express their feelings as easily through verbal communication, but rather express themselves through behavioral cues. The Life Is Good Playmakers Workshop aims to empower participants to recognize these behavioral cues so they can help students through any difficulties they may be facing, whether academic or emotional, so that students can overcome these obstacles and succeed.
Every child needs a Playmaker; a caring adult who is dedicated to supporting the healthy development of the children they teach and care for.
The participants in The Playmaker Workshop were able to take away invaluable knowledge and skills that will support their success in working with students that have faced or are currently facing traumatic challenges outside of school. One of the mentors was quoted saying, “I have, over the last two years, seen great growth in all the teachers I have mentored. They have improved their teaching so that their students are more engaged and achieve at a much higher level.” The partnership with Life is Good Kids Foundation continues to support the work of the The Teacher Support Project as well as many other initiatives around the world. Aspire Institute is grateful to have had the opportunity to work with the Life Is Good Kids Foundation and looks forward to collaborating and creating future workshops together as they both work towards enriching the lives of children and their families.