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The Playworks Mission: To improve the health and well-being of children by increasing opportunities for physical activity and safe, meaningful play.
Playworks is a national nonprofit organization that supports learning by providing safe, healthy and inclusive play and physical activity to schools at recess and throughout the entire school day.
Research shows that play is essential to child development and an invaluable tool for improving school climate. And quality recess and playtime also helps children return to the classroom more focused and ready to learn.
Playworks is the only nonprofit organization in the country to send trained, full-time program coordinators, called "coaches" to low-income, urban schools, where they transform recess and play into a positive experience that helps kids and teachers get the most out of every learning opportunity throughout the school day. The coaches become part of the school community, working full-time to provide organized play and physical activity through the five components of the Playworks program. They organize games and activities during recess, provide individual class game times and run a leadership development program during school hours. They also run Playworks tutoring and physical activity programs and developmental sports leagues during after school hours.
Every year, Playworks asks the staff at each school to complete a survey about the impact they feel Playworks has on the students and the school community. Survey results from our Houston partner schools for the 2013-2014 school year showed:
97% reported an increase in the number of students that are physically active during recess
98% reported an increase in the intensity of student physical activity during recess
98% reported an increase in the number of students engaged in healthy play
97% reported an increase in the level of cooperation among students during recess
96% reported an increase in the use of conflict resolution strategies during recess
85% reported a decrease in the incidents of bullying during recess
84% reported a decrease in the number of conflicts (physical or verbal) during recess
84% reported a decrease in the number of disciplinary referrals during recess
85% reported a decrease in the number of conflicts originating on the playground and spilling to class
85% reported a reduction in the amount of class time spent resolving conflicts from recess
83% reported a reduction in the amount of time transitioning from recess to classroom instruction
86% reported a reduction in the number of disruptive events in the classroom
96% reported an increase in the level of participation in academic activities
95% reported an increase in the level of cooperation with others during class
95% reported an increase in the students’ abilities to focus on class activities
77% reported a positive impact on the students overall academic success
66% reported a positive impact on students’ school attendance
91% reported a positive impact on overall school climate
81% reported a reduction in the overall disciplinary referrals
88% of staff report that Junior Coaches take on a leadership role during recess
94% of staff said they would like Playworks to return to their school next year
6.6 = average number of minutes recovered daily transitioning from recess to the classroom
19.7 = average number of reclaimed classroom teach hours**
**calculated by using the daily minutes multiplied by 180 days and divided by 60 minutesRecess can be challenging, but a fantastic opportunity. While nearly everyone agrees that kids need time to play and expend energy during the school day, most principals, teachers and school nurses agree that recess times can be the toughest part of the day. Recesses are often the flash point for playground fights, discipline referrals and injuries.
In working with hundreds of low-income schools throughout the country, however, Playworks has found recess to be an untapped opportunity to increase physical activity among students. Since nearly every school in America allows some recess time each day, this time can be an unsurpassed chance to not only get kids active, but also to teach a number of valuable life lessons such as cooperation, conflict resolution and teamwork.
Playworks in your community
Playworks also offers comprehensive training and technical support to schools, districts and communities that wish to bring safe, inclusive play to children. Delivered by trained and technical service professionals who play for a living, Playworks Training transports our on-site experience into active, hands-on professional development for adults who wish to bring the principles, implementation and experience of safe, healthy and positive play to the children they serve.
- Stacey Hewitt
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