by Brian Guyer

Volunteer Engagement Director

Working as the Volunteer Director for United Way of Salt Lake has made me aware of the various opportunities for people to volunteer in our community.  I am always on the lookout for new partners that align with the United Way goals in the areas of Education, Income, and Health.  Today I’m highlighting a partner who not only aligns with the goals of United Way but gives volunteers the opportunity to go back to school to spend some time on the subject everyone loved…RECESS.

Over the past few weeks I have been using a lunch break a week to volunteer with Playworks at a local elementary school.  Playworks is an organization that has been around for a while (although it just arrived in Utah) and their mission is to support learning by providing safe, healthy, and inclusive play and physical activity to low-income schools at recess and throughout the entire school day.  I  can’t tell you how much fun this volunteer opportunity has been for me.  It’s like I get to relive my childhood once a week.  The games they play are the same games I remember from my childhood (four square, kickball, knockout) but they focus on teamwork, inclusiveness, and fair play.  Students have clearly taken the Playworks doctrines to heart because every out in kickball is followed with an energetic “nice try!” and several high fives.  Gone are the days of being the last kid picked for the playground games.  Playworks staff are on site to make sure that no kids are left out and everyone gets a chance to take part.  For me the highlight has been the students recognizing me and making an effort to take part in whatever game I’m playing.  This has made for some very spirited games of four square and more than once I’ve been humbled by the expertise of the Lincoln Elementary students.

As the Volunteer Engagement Director for United Way I connect people with volunteer opportunities every single day but this one, on a personal level, has been such a joy for me.  I can’t suggest volunteering with Playworks highly enough.  Call them up, go through the very simple training, and then take an hour or two a week to get outside and reconnect with the recess games of your childhood while being a role model and positive influence in the lives of a great group of kids.

For more information about volunteering with Playworks or any other organization please contact Brian Guyer at: