Here at Northeastern there are hundreds of great student organizations to get involved in! We want to highlight some organizations that you may not know, so we’re interviewing members of student organizations to learn a little bit about them and what their club is about. Tune in every week for a new post from The Club Chronicle!
The Club Chronicle Interview #21: Peace Through Play
Can you tell me about yourself and your position in Peace Through Play?
I’m Jenny, I’m a fourth year. Peace Through Play is a service org that works with elementary students in the Dorchester and Roxbury communities, typically with underserved students who don’t have access to a ton of after school programming. So we try to come in and bring games and crafts for them after school. Most of our club participants are general volunteers who go into the classroom. That’s what I did for my first year. In my second year I became a school coordinator , which is basically like a group leader, you’re the lead for a certain group that goes to one of the schools. We have a lot of different school coordinators because we have 16 different programming times so we need 16 groups. It’s awesome to see so much involvement and people willing to step up into those roles. My 3rd year I was director of school partnership. It involved maintaining correspondence with the schools. They’re mostly Boston public schools and a few Boys and Girls clubs. I focused on keeping up with them and coordinating with programing. Now i’m the executive director, our version of president. I oversee all the different operations. It’s been an upward progression which I think is cool. I see us as a very legitimate volunteer organization on campus. We have over 100 volunteers this semester and we work with 10 different partnerships with 200+ students. I think it’s a great opportunity for anyone campus to get involved in service work and working with kids. We don’t require prior experience working with kids so you can just jump into it and we’ll give you the tools and resources you need. It’s a really awesome organization, it’s very cool to see how many opportunities there are within the one club.
What do you do when you visit the schools?
Our programming is once a week and so we go into the classroom once a week with a group of volunteers. You’ll have a lesson plan you build before hand with various games and crafts. Each week we try to give volunteers a theme to build their activities around. If the theme is leadership they might do a craft where they make superhero masks and play superhero tag. Then after we try to debrief the activity and try to talk about leadership, what makes a good leader, who are some role models. Asking questions to get the kids thinking. Other themes are confidence, teamwork and conflict resolution. We try to sneak those into the games so there’s an opportunity to have fun but want to sneak in the concepts and some sort of education. We play 2 or 3 games over the course of an hour then we try to debrief. We focus on having fun and keeping the kids more or less in check but you know kids are kids.
Is there a set day for programming?
We have it throughout the week. Every week day afternoon have at least one slot available. When volunteers give us their availability we try to work around it. Whenever you say you’re free we try to put you in a programming slot at that time. Most years pretty much everyone is able to fit into a slot they want. It is a little bit limiting for co-ops, so we try to offer an evening time where you won’t work with kids but you can prep the crafts so you can be involved in some capacity. We also have been trying to start a new partnership with this program on campus called the Youth Development Initiative Program. It’s this organization that works with high school students and help get them college ready/ So we’re trying to bring high schoolers into evening programming so co-ops can work with teens.
Caption: Volunteers making “growth mindset pizzas” to show a fun way to introduce the growth mindset during programming at a volunteer training.
Do volunteers come up with lessons themselves or do they get it from Eboard?
We try to give them as much freedom as possible but also give them some help with the ideas. We have a website where we list games and crafts that people have done. They’re marked by theme so if it’s teamwork week we can search for teamwork games and try to get ideas from there. We also have weekly club meetings every Monday so that’s the main time for volunteers to do their lesson planning. We try to do special games too. We have one of those big rainbow parachutes kids lose their minds over that. We try to remind volunteers we have special resources like that if they want to do a special week with the kids.
Other than going to the schools do you have events on campus?
In the beginning of the year during welcome week we try to put on an event then. Fore the past few years we’ve done peace through tie dye. We have a bunch of t shirts and tie dye supplies and it’s open to anyone. You can stop by to learn about us and tie dye a shirt. That’s our big event usually for the year. After that we mainly focus on programming.
How can students get involved?
We have a commitment form at the beginning of the year that you fill out just saying why you’re interested in joining. It’s fairly simple we just want to give people the opportunity to formally commit. Then from there we schedule volunteers. We want to keep the bar to entry low because we want as many people as possible to get involved. I know other organizations and opportunities on campus to work with kids you have to have some sort of prior experience so we try to be more open in that sense. You just fill out the commitment form then come to programing and the meetings.
Caption: Peace Through Play volunteer body for the Fall 2019 semester.
Where is the commitment form?
Posted on our website, we also do info sessions at the beginning of the semester and do flyering to get the word out. Our website is peacethroughplay.org and you can click a button to join the mailing list to stay updated.
Do you have social media accounts?
Instagram is @peacethroughplay. Facebook is just Peace through Play.
How long has Peace Through Play been around for?
We’re about to turn 10 years old next year, we came to Northeastern in 2010. So originally our club was born out of this children’s festival. It was a weekend event for kids to play games and eventually it evolved into this official organization that was called peace first that turned the one day festival into a yearlong curriculum. Someone co-op’d at that organization and brought a chapter to Northeastern. Then the original organization Peace First changed their volunteer criteria so you had to be a full time Americorp volunteer to be involved. So the Northeastern chapter became its own independent org and renamed itself Peace Through Play.
What was your favorite experience with programming?
We went to a Youth group home, which was where the kids live, and provided programming there for when they came home from school. It was an interesting programming situation, because we’re usually in the classroom. But this time we were in their home so it was a much more intimate kind of feeling. At the same time these kids have been through difficult things so it’s kind of troubling to see. But it’s nice to give them the opportunity to play and have fun. Kids are so funny too working with them is so rewarding. We made a fortune teller paper thing one time and I said someone give me a bad fortune and this kid said you’ll get no mail forever. Just little things like that. At times working with kids can be challenging. They won’t always listen or like the games but it’s worth it for those little moments.
Caption: Peace Through Play volunteer reading to students; reading can be a great way to introduce complex themes like conflict resolution and self-awareness to the children.
What’s one thing you wished people knew about Peace Through Play?
I like to emphasize that we call ourselves a student run organization in the sense that there’s no larger Peace through Play organization that’s operating in the state or country. We’re the only Peace Through Play so everything we do is done by students. Setting up programming , building our website, fundraising is all done by us. I’m very proud of that and I think it’s awesome to see how dedicated our eboard members are. We have a huge eboard because we have so many programming times so for people who join our club there’s tons of opportunities for leadership experience and solid experience working at something similar to a small scale non profit.
What is your favorite part about being involved in Peace Through Play?
I think the opportunity to get to know other people. We are such a big organization so we see a lot of diversity in majors and backgrounds. Especially being on Eboard, that’s an even better opportunity to get to know people. I know people join clubs to make friends but some clubs that doesn’t happen. When I was doing that freshman year join a bunch of club thing I felt like in some club it wasn’t the vibe to make friends. I think at peace through play there are people who have become friends or roommates through the club. When we say it’s a great opportunity to make friends we are very serious about that. Even club members who have graduated, I still keep in touch with them.