Fidelis Teixeira, 26, of Dorchester, never learned how to play. He attended Boston Renaissance Charter School from kindergarten through 7th grade during a time when there was no scheduled recess - only street pick-up games. Back then, the school was located within a high-rise in downtown Boston where there was no playground or blacktop.
Now, he is an expert on play.
Teixeira works full-time providing training and onsite assistance to teachers and paid recess monitors in four Boston communities for Playworks New England, a regional branch of the national nonprofit working to bring play and physical activity into elementary schools.
He’s working with educators at Michael J. Perkins Elementary School, Boston Green Academy, Joyce Kilmer K-8 School in and Boston Renaissance Charter School, now located in Hyde Park.
“There are many young people out there who don’t get the experience of interacting with an adult who can relate to them on a certain level,” says Teixeira, who is now in his third year working for Playworks New England. “Kids can relate to play. They are interested in play. When they care about something and someone, in this case being the activities and people they play with, they focus. They learn from the games and their peers. They grow.”
Teixeira serves as a mentor to a diverse population of students, faculty, and staff.
Growing up, he learned how to participate in group activities and outdoor excursions through the Crossroads for Kids program in ways he hadn’t been exposed to before, such as playing at the beach, hiking Yellowstone National Park, and visiting college campuses.
Teixeira works one-on-one with recess monitors and educators to teach or re-teach them the rules of class childhood games, including kickball and four square. He provides them with tools and tips for communicating with students and on a rotating basis he assists with running recess on the playground for one week a month in each of his schools.
“Play can have an incredible impact on children and schools - a trickle-down effect if you will,” says Teixeira. “After a year of Playworks programming, kids walk down the hall differently. Kids relate to their peers and teachers differently. They communicate better. They can resolve many conflicts on their own. They get more involved in their community outside of school. And, it’s all because of play.”
Playworks New England offers training and full-time services for schools and youth development organizations throughout New England. In its 12th year, the nonprofit serves 65,000 students in more than 120 elementary schools across the region. To date, the nonprofit has served 210,000 youth.