Great Practices and Happy Kids

Great Practices and Happy Kids

Jessica Wagner

I’ve always loved working with kids. This was something that I realized when I was six years old and my younger cousin was born. I admire children’s frankness, their playfulness, their creativity, their straightforward facial expressions, and their ability to recognize genuineness. My friend Ashleigh and I have talked about this many times. She has always worked with kids as well and enjoys spending time with them for the same reasons. I had very little interaction with children when I lived in California and I felt like a different person because of it. I was lacking in both empathy and goofiness.

Now, I’m more appreciative than ever that I get to interact with kids every week through Students Run Philly Style, and nothing makes me happier than having a great practice with my students. Yesterday was a great practice.

At the end of Students Run, we give each other “props” by individually saying something positive about our run or about another teammate. Sometimes our kids act like they’re too tough to be nice to one another, but this exercise allows them to appreciate each other and leave on a positive note. One particular case proved this yesterday and was a perfect example of why we do this.

One student didn’t want to be bothered with props because she had “nothing nice to say.” I reminded her that maybe someone had something nice to say about her so she needed to stick around. It turned out that not only did she have something nice to say about practice, but one of her peers gave her a shoutout and thanked her for running with them. The second they mentioned her name, I looked over at her and there it was…a smile on her face and pride in her eyes. She was proud of herself for helping out another student and she realized that she was a significant part of the team - something I’ve had to remind her of in the past since she’s very independent.

And that is why I love working with youth. They’re genuine in their words and actions and every interaction they have can be a part of their foundation. They also appreciate positive recognition, whether they say it out loud or just show it through a smile.

We all love to be recognized for our accomplishments, but we do a lot of self promotion via social media now. For me, that is only short term satisfaction. It’s those in-person, unprovoked recognitions that lead to long-lasting confidence boosts and self-worth. If you’re looking for your own life purpose, consider mentoring, tutoring, or volunteering in your area of interest. Not only will it give you a great sense of accomplishment, but you’ll witness other acts of kindness without social media filters.

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When was the last time you volunteered?

Do you enjoy working with kids?

How has your running been lately?


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