Imagination Playground Play Associate: Jamaal Pinckney

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November 1, 2010 in Play Associates

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For many, the term “Play Associate” is a completely foreign concept. What exactly is a Play Associate, and why do kids need a Play Associate on the playground? New York City native Jamaal Pinckney asked himself those very same questions when he first trained for his Play Associate position with the New York City Parks and Recreation Department.

Pinckney, a long-time supporter of positive child development, began working with the Imagination Playground program in 2007 during the organization’s first pilot. Though he had worked with Mommy and Me programs and basketball camps, he’d never encountered a role like that of the Play Associate. The job requires a multitude of skills, including high levels of multi-tasking, since Play Associates often have to manage and maintain the safety of the site while overseeing the large groups of children who come to play. “It provides supervision without the parental role,” Pinckney notes, “I try to create a safe, secure atmosphere for children.” He goes on to say that he works to foster play by prompting children “to collaborate and cooperate, to work together and be cohesive.” As you can guess, he’s seen his share of imaginative constructions, including an American Chopper motorcycle that actually moved! When asked what his favorite part of the job is, Pinckney replied, “working with the kids and watching them over a long period of time. As time goes on you see them become experts.