Intertwining Old School Play with 21st Century Technology at Boys & Girls Clubs of Portland

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an initiative to intertwine old school play with 21st century technology. Play outside, then play online.

Players wear the Sqord booster like a watch and it tracks activity points. Earn activity points by playing outside and/or being active, and, for the online component, sync the booster using an iPad or a phone to transfer activity point. Then, interact with the game online! 

The objective of the initiative is to encourage kids to be more active. The objective of my position is get the program up and running at the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Portland Metro (BGCP).

Originally, five BGCP locations were set to participate, but due to the popularity of the program, all eight Club locations around Portland have come to be involved. We had three waves of launches: One Club started the program at the beginning of October, four more sites would start in the middle, and three would start at the end. I started in on this project during the second week of September. 

My supervisor started me off with a work plan consisting of a few objectives and a basic timeline. By the time I finished orientation and trainings, I had a mere fourteen weeks left to make it all happen and only two weeks until the first site would launch. Sqord - Ready, Set, GO!

I had been in this position before, of an extreme time crunch, in my first year of AmeriCorps, but it went more like: Develop a mentoring program for “at-risk” youth - Ready, Set, GO!

For that project, there was a plethora of research at my disposal that I could peruse for several months to help develop a framework before launching the program. This time around, I had little time for research and framework development. Sqord - GO!  

For this fellowship project, my short-term plan went something like this:

  • Train all of the people who would be responsible for running Sqord at their sites (administrators)
  • Give said administrators the accompanying “Team Admin Packet”
  • Support them as they tailored the program to fit the culture of their Club (Because each Club site is unique and operates a little differently, Sqord would then operate a little differently at each site).

As I was developing a plan for how the initiative would run, unbeknownst to me, one of the Clubs had already figured out a way to integrate Sqord into their curriculum and needed the equipment ASAP! So before I even had a fully-developed plan, we had no choice but to provide them with their equipment and hope for the best. We had no idea the kind of buy-in there would be - 

Would the kids like it? Would it be fun for them? How do keep them engaged throughout?

Much in keeping with the theme so far during my time with the initiative, we had to figure these things out on the go. This is where I learned of the term “soft launch”.

Our soft launch with the first Club and the ensuing hiccups that followed turned out to be a blessing in disguise because every obstacle we encountered was an opportunity to learn more about how the game and interface works. By our second wave of launches, I was better equipped to support the administrators across sites as they were getting started.  

This experience helping launch Sqord has allowed me to hone and refine my program development skills. By the time we were ready for our third wave of launches, we had a sturdy framework in place and far fewer logistical problems cropped up. Site admins and I continue to learn new things about Sqord everyday, and the more we learn, the more we will continue to refine the program. Sqord - GO!