Monumental Sports & Entertainment Foundation Donates $50,000 to Playworks Washington D.C.

June 4, 2013

WASHINGTON, DC – Monumental Sports & Entertainment (MSE) announced today the formation of a partnership between Monumental Sports & Entertainment Foundation and Playworks Washington D.C., through which MSE Foundation will provide a $50,000 grant and programming to the organization for the 2013-14 school year.

Playworks is a national nonprofit organization that transforms schools by providing play and physical activity at recess and throughout the school day. Its mission is to improve the health and well-being of children by increasing opportunities for physical activity and safe, meaningful play. Playworks currently partners with 13 public and public charter schools in Washington, D.C., serving 3,650 students each day.
To launch the partnership MSE Foundation hosted the Playworks Washington D.C. Junior Coach Leadership Conference at Verizon Center on May 31, for 130 Junior Coaches from 13 Playworks Washington D.C. partner schools.

Conference participants included fourth- through fifth-grade students from the Playworks Washington D.C. Junior Coach program, which provides students with monthly training focusing on peer leadership and conflict resolution. Junior Coaches then implement the training on the recess yard, where they model positive behavior for their peers, as well as help to facilitate games and resolve any conflicts that may arise during play.

During the conference MSE staff assisted at stations where Junior Coaches played games and participated in enrichment activities. Game stations included relay races, group juggling and rock-paper-scissors. Each game station closed with the students discussing what they learned from the games and how it related to their role as a Junior Coach. The enrichment activities consisted of stations where students wrote letters sharing their experiences about being Junior Coaches, designed their own business cards and created a mosaic quilt out of construction paper.

“Through the Junior Coach Leadership Conference, students from schools across D.C. joined together for a day of reflection, community building and fun,” said Rachel Hustedt, program manager from Playworks Washington D.C. who planned the 2013 Junior Coach Leadership Conference. “Hosting the event at Verizon Center provided an additional element of excitement for participants.”

Junior Coaches also watched the Mystics scrimmage and participated in a Q&A session with Mystics guards Matee Ajavon and Ivory Latta. Ajavon and Latta fielded questions about what it took to make it to the WNBA and what leadership skills help them to be the best players and teammates they can be. One student challenged the players to a game of basketball, and Latta obliged, noting she would not take it easy on him. The Junior Coach headed confidently to the court, got the ball, dribbled a few times and shot a swish. His fellow Junior Coaches cheered wildly as Latta looked on in disbelief then congratulated her opponent. Ajavon and Latta ended the session by telling the students that if they worked hard, they could accomplish any goal they set for themselves.

“The Junior Coaches were thrilled to see the Mystics scrimmage and have the opportunity to ask questions of Ivory and Matee,” said Hustedt. “They were also excited to participate in the day's events with the court, locker rooms and the rest of Verizon Center as the backdrop. In the future, when they watch a Mystics, Wizards or Capitals game, they will be reminded of the day that they spent at the venue, and connect back to the meaningful and enjoyable experience.”

Through the partnership MSE Foundation will launch a hockey program in up to eight schools in the fall of 2013. Capitals staff will train Playworks coaches on how to run the program, and street hockey equipment will be provided to each participating school.

In the spring of 2014 MSE Foundation also will sponsor a Playworks girls’ basketball league. Mystics players, coaches and front office staff will participate in a fall and spring clinic, and Mystics basketballs will be provided to participating schools.

In addition, Capitals, Mystics and Wizards fans will be invited to participate in service projects at Playworks partner schools.

Monumental Sports & Entertainment Foundation supports the charitable efforts of the professional teams under its umbrella: the Washington Capitals, Mystics and Wizards. MSE is committed to the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area and focuses on the following five pillars to maximize its impact on the community: education and scholarship, hunger and homelessness, military and veterans’ affairs, pediatric health and fitness and youth basketball and hockey.

Recognizing the community as our most important asset, MSE Foundation looks forward to continuing to create programs that are designed to give back to the very community that supports our teams. In 2013 MSE Foundation, along with the Leonsis Foundation, will donate more than $1.5 million to local charities. To date the foundations have donated more than $650,000 to area organizations.