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Play Captain in a red shirt reading a book to younger children.heic

Play Captains

Coined after the Block Captain and Jr. Block Captain roles, the Play Captain Initiative is a workforce development and civic-engagement initiative with the mission to empower and train teens in leadership, playful learning and facilitation to make the Playstreets, playgrounds and neighborhoods of Philadelphia more playful. The program runs year-round with our signature programming taking place during the summer.

In 2021, the Play Captain Initiative was selected as a

National Summer Learning Association Excellence in Learning


The Initiative can be replicated for other cities. Contact us to learn


Thank you for your interest in being a Play Captain with us; we've received over 230 applications and we have closed our interest form for the summer.
Please follow us on Social Media and check back in for future opportunities to work and play with us.
A group of Play Captains leading a game with younger children on Tampa Street in Philadelphia

Our vision: Is for more playful and engaged communities, where teens are leading the way!

Our Approach: We train teens ages 15-19 in playful learning, facilitation, leadership and other workplace skills in order for them to play and lead games with children on the Play Streets.

Our Impact:

  • Increase amount of daily physical activity experienced by the Play Captains and children on the Play Streets;

  • Decrease 'Summer Slide' by incorporating literacy activities and games;

  • Increase Play Captains self-efficacy and sense that they can have a positive impact on their neighborhoods; and

  • Adults view teens as assets.

If you would like to support this or any of our other youth programs, click on the donate button below.

Your donations are tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law.

Play Captain Data


"Carry-over Effect"

In summer 2022, Play Captains spent 45 minutes leading playful learning activities on the Playstreets - but the impact of their facilitation could be seen long after they left! After the Play Captains were gone, children continued to show positive emotions, they were socially and physically active, and they used high-quality language. 


Summer Slide

By the end of the summer; all our Play Captains have learned about, and can tell you what the term summer slide means (learning loss that occurs for many children during the summer months).


Many of them report that they enjoy being a Play Captain because they can help children reduce summer slide from the games and activities they play and facilitate.


First Job Experience

For more than 85% of our teens, this is their first job experience; and we take that very seriously. We build in from application to exit survey opportunities for them to experience and practice things they may encounter again at a future employers


Playful Learning & the Six Cs

Playful learning is at the foundation of all of our work, with an emphasis on developing the "Six Cs". At the core of playful learning is the belief that people learn best while playing and that guided or facilitated play can help foster learning. 


The Six Cs include: Confidence, Creativity, Critical Thinking, Collaboration, Communication and Content. These qualities are important in young people, and also young adults and are often the qualities that employers seek in their employees.

Our staff, both adults and teens, are trained on how to integrate a playful learning approach in their engagement and facilitation.

Play Captains by the Numbers


Number of books distributed since 2017


Teens hired since 2017


Hours of FREE facilitated playful learning on the Playstreets & playgrounds since 2017

Are you a teen (15-19 y/o) or do you know one who would like to work as a Play Captain?


Make sure you follow us on

Social Media @fabyouthphilly to know when our applications go live (usually in April)

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