When second grader Jaritzel didn’t want to play “Red Light/Green Light”, Rayvaughn King, our October “Volunteer of the Month” knew he had a challenge on his hands.
He and his Nike colleagues from the company’s South Coast Plaza store help run a sports and fitness program each Wednesday at the newly renovated sports court at our Dan Donahue Center.
“Jaritzel is a good athlete and she is a very fast runner, but she quickly retreated to the sidelines whenever the red/light green light game started up,” Rayvaughn recalls.
So, Rayvaughn put his leadership and team building skills to full use.
“Why not join us and the other kids in the game?” he asked.
“I’m not fond of it,” she replied.
“Well, what game do you like?” he asked.
“Turtle tag!” Jaritzel answered.
“Do you think you’d be faster than me at that game?” Rayvaughn challenged.
“I’m fast, maybe faster than you!”
Soon, Rayvaughn had his reluctant student joining in not only with turtle tag, but with all the games—including the once reviled red light/green light.
Rayvaughn has been volunteering at KidWorks for over 18 months, having first connected with us as part of Nike’s program to have each of its stores partner with local charities. He’s now one of Nike’s South Coast community ambassadors.
Each Wednesday, Rayvaughn or one of the other eight or so employees at the South Coast Plaza store, lead six consecutive sports and fitness sessions for kindergarten through fifth grades.
“We lead the kids in activities that include stretching, warm-ups, physical fitness education, sports and games,” Rayvaughn says. “What I especially try to instill are the concepts of teamwork, encouraging others and a healthy attitude towards competition.”
Rayvaughn is currently working towards a degree in marketing from Orange Coast College, having also earned a degree in communications from Concordia University. He’s uniquely qualified to introduce our students to fitness and sports, having played varsity basketball and football. In fact, his Zama American High School’s basketball and football teams won the Far East Championships when he attended school in Japan when his father was stationed there in the U.S. Navy.
“Rayvaughn is very consistent in helping with KidWorks’ sports programs, always excited to work with our students and showing up with a ton of energy and a huge smile,” says Gerardo Magaña, our Director of Volunteer and Leadership Resources. “You can hear his booming voice throughout our center as he cheers on the students. Rayvaughn and the team from Nike are passionate about using sports as an avenue to develop character through teamwork, perseverance and living an active lifesty
Our teachers agree with Gerardo’s words of gratitude about Rayvaughn.
“My second and fifth grade students love to play sports with Rayvaughn,” says Daisy Rojas, a Program Leader at our Dan Donahue Center. “He encourages everyone to participate so no one feels left out. That helps the students to believe in themselves, and the ones who at first might be shy about joining the fun eventually do. Rayvaughn also helps instill leadership and good citizenship skills in our students since he’s punctual, dedicated and makes sure everyone is included.”
Says Salma Galdamez, also a Program Leader at the Donahue Center, “Rayvaughn engages the students to enjoy outside play on our sports court, helping them to realize that exercise can be fun. KidWorks supports encouraging our students to set healthy goals such as fitness, exercise and good nutritional choices. Rayvaughn is making a big positive impact in those areas whenever he’s on our sports court,
Rayvaughn says he wants to encourage traits in our students that he strives to foster in himself: humility and cheering on others. “And, of course, I also love the simple joy of having fun on the KidWorks’ brand new sports court!” he adds.
Whether it's supervising an intense game of turtle tag or leading our students in two dozen jumping jacks, Rayvaughn has been immensely valuable supporting KidWorks focus on leadership development, one of the newly announced three Program Success Strategies. We thank Rayvaughn and his Nike colleagues for helping our sports court truly exceed our expectations.
By Glenn Leibowitz, volunteer writer