The Re-Inspire Foundation, the creators of Recess Cleveland, recently had a meeting where we discussed the importance and magic of Community Recess. Our first event, exactly one year ago, was the toughest because there were so many variables:
1) What if no one shows?
2) What if there’s a fight/disturbance?
3) What if the weather turns and it rains profusely?
With a cloud of uncertainty, we proceeded anyway, and we are so glad we did! Over 45 people, ages 10-65, showed up and participated. The parents were not only cheerleaders (and sometimes referees), but because they shared the same fear of a disturbance…they were also our security team. The kids independently picked up the “Skip-its”, hula hoops, Frisbees, and gathered other attendees to play small group games until the organizers were ready to kick off the big team games of Dodgeball and Kickball. Our photographer was a bit jealous of the fun everyone was having and left his duties to join in! Kids nowadays love taking photos and videos, so we passed our GoPro camera and photo equipment to youth volunteers who were interested in helping out.
Here is video of the event:
During our Dodgeball game, an argument started between a few observers. Aisha James, one of the parents, took it upon herself to diffuse the situation before any of the Dodgeball players noticed. When we thanked Aisha for intervening, and she said she wanted to assist with future events. Throughout the summer, Aisha helped with event promotion, donated food to every event, and brought 10+ guests that played in most games. Way to go, Aisha!
As the summer went on, regular attendees began showing up about an hour before the events’ start time to help with the initial setup. During the event, they would help with transitioning between games. By the final Recess event of 2015, the Re-inspire team had ample volunteer support and the regulars were experienced enough to host the entire event themselves while the Re-inspire team focused on adding new games and activities. At the end of the 2015 season, we awarded all of our appreciated community leaders with an official Recess Cleveland t-shirt.
One of our goals in 2016 is to challenge our volunteer leaders to get more involved in our community. While we often had 40+ people show up for recess in the Circle North area on short notice, we average only a fraction of that at most community events and meetings. We hope to help convert more Recess Cleveland volunteer leaders into Cleveland community leaders this year.