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Community Spotlight: Trainer Jes Ward

Community Spotlight is a new blog series we have started to introduce you to the Play for Peace Community! We are honored to have Jes as a new Trainer who will be bringing in her youth from cityWILD as our first spotlight. The following is her experience of our training program.

It was a chilly, Colorado morning when I found myself in a strange predicament in my living room. My right hand was touching my computer screen and my left hand was touching the binding of one of my favorite books on my oversized book shelf. My right foot was on the chair behind me, and my nose (yes, my nose) was touching the light blue line on the hand-made ceramic tea cup on my table. I was by myself. Well… that isn’t entirely accurate. Though I was physically alone, I was not the only person in my precarious situation. There were a handful of us across the globe giggling into our computer microphones as we played “Touch Blue” together during a break from our Play for Peace Trainer Certification course. For several weeks we came together in a virtual learning community to gain the skills necessary to train others as Play for Peace facilitators. While I have participated in a variety of virtual learning opportunities, one of the many unique things that stood out to me about the Play for Peace training was how quickly I felt connected with the other participants, though most of us had never met in person. Imroz and Sarah (our trainers) guided us through dialogues that, despite our distance, time differences, personal and professional backgrounds, busy schedules, and sometimes-struggling internet connections, felt as close to an in-person training as a virtual community could. What was most valuable to me was the opportunity to hear from so many facilitators who have engaged youth in experiential education across the globe. Because this training was designed for experienced facilitators, we were not only provided with the online course material, but were invited to contribute based on our own experiences. Our trainers were careful to make sure that all voices and perspectives were heard, and that we all had ample time to share. The energy of the trainers, enthusiasm of the participants, and focus on the joyful pursuit of peace and social justice quickly made my Monday mornings with the Play for Peace trainer community something that I looked forward to each week. As we now prepare for our first session to train cityWILD youth in Play for Peace facilitation, I think back fondly on the five weeks I had with my colleagues (playmates) and can’t wait to update them on our progress as we engage in building peaceful communities throughout Denver through cooperative play. - Written by Jes Ward Executive Director, cityWILD, Denver, Colorado Photo owned by cityWILD. 17131999186_e47b76be61_o Jes’ experiential education adventure began in the 8th grade when she had the great fortune of being placed in the infamous Mr. K’s class. Mr. K was an experiential educator who stoked Jes’ lifelong love of learning and over time introduced her to Play for Peace and its co-founder, Craig Dobkin. Needless to say, she was hooked! Nearly 20 years later, she is still facilitating experiential processes and encouraging others to do the same.