Pender schools take Playshop seriously
By Keith T. Barber
Star-News Correspondent
February 21, 2002

ROCKY POINT | An idea originated by Pender Primary School teachers and counselors last year came to life Tuesday inside the school’s gymnasium.

Scott Ertl, founder of Playshops Inc., conducted a workshop focused on building a sense of community among parents, teachers, students, ministers, social workers and county agencies by improving communication techniques.

Participants in the workshop engaged in Playshop activities, pairing enjoyable games with the sharing of feelings, thoughts and life experiences. Tower Building, a game where participants shared one of their strengths while placing a building block, expressed the message of the workshop – what binds people is far greater than what divides them.

"This actually gives us the opportunity to work with the teachers, the counselors and people in the community on prevention techniques – ways and means for communicating about the issues of violence and solutions to them," said Ed Minnich, executive director of Safe Haven of Pender Inc.

Safe Haven, a privately run shelter for victims of domestic violence, funded Tuesday’s workshop.

Megan Ives, a Pender High School student who participated in the afternoon session, said Playshops exceeded her expectations.

"I came in here with the notion that I would be bored, but I actually had a really good time," she said.

Last year, Safe Haven wrote a grant and asked Pender County schools to generate creative ideas for educating the community about violence prevention.

Linda Longley, a school counselor at Rocky Point Primary, said she and other staff members saw Mr. Ertl make his Play|shops presentation at a conference for school counselors.

Ms. Longley wrote a proposal to Safe Haven to bring Mr. Ertl to Rocky Point Primary, and Safe Haven funded the workshop.

"It’s a way to get people to talk about things you normally don’t talk about on a day-to-day basis," said Shannon Blanchard, outreach intervention specialist for Safe Haven, of the afternoon Train the Trainers session.

Ms. Blanchard said she spends the majority of her time working with the Pender school system, educating teachers and students on issues such as anger management, conflict resolution and dating violence. A Playshop was scheduled Tuesday evening to strengthen communication between parents, teachers and children in the Rocky Point community.