The Santa Cruz Education Foundation hopes to expand a pilot facilitated recess program to all four Santa Cruz City Schools elementary schools. Modeled on Playworks, our program will increase students’ physical activity during the school day, promote positive, inclusive play and incorporate effective conflict resolution tools into student interaction.
Over 30% of U.S. children have a body mass index that qualifies them as overweight, 15.5 are obese. Hispanic and African American children have even higher obesity rates. Childhood obesity is associated health complications like Type 2 diabetes, hypertension and heart disease. Overall health and fitness are linked and impact students’ academic outcomes. Children, even when given the opportunity, are not engaging in self-initiated physical activity. Physical activity is an essential component to health, but it is also essential to promoting focus in the classroom. Children who do not regularly engage in physical activity or play experience fewer opportunities for healthy social interaction.
In a pilot program at Bay View Elementary School in Santa Cruz, Playworks coaches are guiding students in sage, meaningful play at recess. Virtually every child now plays at recess increasing the number of children who are physically active and increasing the amount time they spend being physically active. This program, coupled with a transition to recess before lunch, has also resulted in significantly fewer disciplinary incidents. Teachers report that students return ready to focus and no longer bring playground conflict into the classroom.