We believe in the power of play to bring out the best in every kid. That means we believe there is a best in every kid, and in every adult, too. At our core, this belief is the basis for centering equity at Playworks.
Playworks’ mission is to improve the health and well-being of all children by increasing opportunities for physical activity and safe, meaningful play. Safe and healthy play is not equitably available to all kids in all communities. We believe safe and healthy play is an effective way to build a more fair and equitable future for all kids. Our commitment is to center equity as we prioritize partnerships with diverse communities nationwide.
We believe diversity includes all the ways in which people differ, encompassing the different characteristics that make one individual or group different from another. While diversity is often used in reference to visual characteristics such as race, ethnicity, age, sex, and physical appearance, we embrace a broader definition of diversity that also includes less visible factors, such as, national origin, religion, gender, differing abilities (physical, mental, learning), sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, education, marital status, language, political affiliation, and military experience. We also recognize that individuals can affiliate with multiple identities. We aim to employ and develop a diverse staff at all levels that reflects and represents our partner communities.
Addressing racial equity within Playworks is our first priority because race is an accepted basis – by many people and institutions in the United States – for upholding inequitable policies, practices, and attitudes. We are dedicated to learning and acting in alignment with the goals of racial equity and justice, and specifically with Black and African American people.
Our culture is based on four core values: cultivate play, center equity, continue learning, and collaborate within communities. Since our founding in 1996, we have strived to create inclusive and respectful environments for all children in our partner schools and community-based organizations. And yet, we are early in our efforts to address all the ways systemic racism and inequity of all kinds show up inside our organization and for our team members.
We recognize that Playworks operates within the United States and its history, including being influenced by the legacy of forced removal of indigenous people, slavery, discrimination and long-standing institutional efforts to maintain inequitable conditions based on race. We cannot rest on our good work as proof of our immunity from those influences – for either our organization or as individuals.
Uplifting racial equity, Playworks commits to:
- Provoke honest and dynamic discourse on diversity, equity, and inclusion;
- Rigorously examine our practices, learn to recognize how our organization perpetuates inequitable norms, and establish decision-making and operational expectations that firmly act in opposition to inequity;
- Partner with communities where systemic racism has created so much inequity, and engage them in decision-making, as they are experts in their community’s needs and experiences; and
- Cultivate an inclusive working environment in which every employee feels comfortable expressing their full identity and leadership at all levels actively supports that experience.
This work demands our long-term commitment. Establishing anti-racist practices requires vigilance, and we recognize that we will make mistakes. We are dedicated to learning from those mistakes. We ask all of our stakeholders – including staff, board members, community partners, and supporters – to encourage, challenge, advise, and join us in this work. Simply put, Playworks will only achieve its vision of safe and healthy play for every kid by being an equitable and inclusive organization.