Employment Facts



Founded in the spring of 2000, Playground Partners, Inc. was the inspiration of three parents of elementary aged children, Marshall and Ginny Merrifield and Dawn Lawson. They were moved to develop this program after realizing the tremendous potential to teach and model effective and positive social skills during the noontime recess period. Today, YMCA Playground Partners is providing its curriculum to over 5000 elementary and middle school students with the support of parent and community volunteers. The YMCA Playground Partners balance of fun and values is working to transform playgrounds and recess periods into positive environments for students of all abilities and all personalities.


YMCA Playground Partners is designed to provide a customized outdoor program that builds self-confidence, models effective communication and conflict resolution skills, and encourages positive behavior on the playground.


YMCA Playground Partners presents an outdoor curriculum, through collaboration with parents as trained playground coaches, to enrich the playground experience and promote cognitive development. Each school is assigned a professional field manager who designs and implements developmentally age appropriate games and activities specific to the students and playground space.

Parent volunteers model positive social skills, facilitate conflict resolution and encourage inclusion of children in playground activities. In support of the school supervisory staff, YMCA Playground Partners “coaches” become actively involved, providing the constructs needed to initiate games and activities and support the educational qualities of sportsmanship, teamwork and fair play.

The YMCA Playground Partners program encourages positive communication and builds self-confidence in students, involving them in playground games that they would normally avoid. As a result, students can then take that confidence back into the classroom. The program has been successful at identifying behavior issues, and helps to implement ways to effectively talk to kids about conflict resolution and how to do it in a positive matter.


Volunteers in the community greatly support the YMCA. Volunteers play an active role on the Board of Management, in committees and fundraising, as coaches, referees, literacy tutors and office support.

Your involvement as a volunteer is greatly appreciated and is an integral part in the success of all our great programs and events!

If you are interested in becoming a YMCA Volunteer stop by our facility and pick up a volunteer application at the Front Desk.

Please go to http://www.ymca.org/volunteer.html to complete an online volunteer application. Please mark the box “Playground Partners” and please indicate the location as “North County - Coastal [Magdalena Ecke Family YMCALocated in Encinitas]”. Please indicate the school site under “Experience” on the online application.