The first week of school already found me running to drop off my son’s forgotten notebook. I happened to find myself on campus during middle school recess. Meandering thru hundreds of thirteen year olds in search of my son, I noticed something strange. No one was “playing.” Recess looked more like a benefit with swarms of clicks talking in large groups. What is happening to these kids? Does anyone play anymore?
Well, it seems that I’m a little late to this idea and that it isn’t just parents worried about play but also teachers and principals. I was thrilled to discover that someone is really doing something about this and her name is Jill Vialet. In 1996, Jill had a conversation with a haggard looking school principal who launched into a tirade about…recess.
The principal was tired of seeing the same kids in her office every day, for fighting on the playground. She didn’t believe they were bad children but was equally worried about her teachers who were literally hiding, to avoid recess so they wouldn’t have to confront the inevitable outbreak of chaos.
That conversation struck both a chord and action from Jill Vialet, who within the same year founded Sports4Kids, which is now Playworks. Her goal was to transform recess and the school day with safe and healthy play so teachers can teach and kids can learn.
Playworks is the only nonprofit organization in the country providing trained, full-time play coaches focused on recess to hundreds of low-income schools in major urban areas. 85 percent of principals report that students are more engaged in school since having Playworks on site. The safe and healthy play Playworks is bringing to schools is helping students succeed in the classroom and in life.
Today, Playworks brings play and physical activity to more than 130,000 children in 300 schools in 23 US cities and continues to expand. Jill Vialet knows how important play is and her non-profit more than makes it work!
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