Playworks Gala

June 2019. New York City, 1515 Broadway

Playworks celebrated their fifth annual Get in the Game Gala, hosted by Nickelodeon, in the Viacom Building rooftop overlooking Times Square on a beautiful summer night.

This year Playworks New York/New Jersey expanded their impact to serve more than 125,000 girls and boys in over 200 schools across our region to ensure safe, healthy and inclusive play which helps reduces bullying, increases physical activity, improve learning and promote social and emotional skills.

In addition to their full time Playworks programming in local New York City and Newark schools, this winter they launched daily programming in four Rochester schools as part of their Western NY expansion, funded in part by the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation.

There was much to celebrate as Playworks' NY/NJ Board Chair, Laura James, and Team Up Program Manager, Luis Guerra presented the Most Valuable Principal award recognizing Dina Ercolano, and honored five Playworks Junior Coaches.

The evening featured inspiring remarks from Playworks NY/NJ Program Director, Henry Appiah, Director of Development, Deborah Brodheim, and Founder and CEO, Jill Vialet. A live auction led by CK Swett raised funds to support the expanding efforts of Playworks to bring the power of play to every child in New York and beyond. A special highlight was Sponge Bob Squarepants greeting guests and congratulating the Junior Coaches on their awards.

Attendees enjoyed stunning views of Times Square and experienced play through immersive activations of traditional recess games like Four Square and Switch, along with life sized installations of Jenga, Hop Scotch, Ground Pong and a rousing game of Ro-Sham-Bo Rockstar.

Working closely with Playworks, Empire served as the overall event producer, managing elements including venue, décor, programming, and technical production. Empire is a leading producer of fundraising events and we are honored to have produced all five years of the Annual Playworks New York Get in the Game Gala.

To support or learn more about Playworks, please visit

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