Playworks for every kid

About Playworks Indiana

PLAYWORKS for every kid.

In 1995, Playworks Founder Jill Vialet got an earful from a principal she was visiting in Oakland, California. Rather than recess being a happy, playful time for the kids, the principal lamented that it had become the most chaotic period of the school day, with kids getting hurt, getting into trouble and getting left out. In that moment Jill saw an opportunity to change recess, to make it a positive and productive time for all kids. In 1996, Jill founded Playworks. In 2013, we expanded to Indiana.

Principals tell us that nearly all discipline-related problems in school occur during lunch and recess. Instead of going back to class energized and ready to learn, the kids return to class upset and unable to focus.

We can change this. Recess should be fun and energetic and safe and inclusive for everyone. Isn't that what we want for all kids in elementary school today?

When it becomes a healthy, integral part of the school day, kids carry that positive recess experience with them beyond the playground.  

On our playgrounds, everyone plays, everyone belongs,  everyone contributes to the game. Coaches encourage kids to bring out the best in themselves and each other, and kids learn the value of fair play, compassion and respect.

On our playgrounds, kids become leaders. They run their own games and settle their disputes quickly (rock-paper-scissors is our problem solver) because getting along is more fun than fighting.

On our playgrounds, kids play hard, cheer loud and high five with joy. And they create and carry a feeling of peace and belonging with them into their classrooms, back to their neighborhoods, out into the world.

During this academic year, Playworks Indiana will serve over 5200 students in 9 low-income schools with our Coach and Team-up programs in central Indiana, teaching valuable skills like teamwork and cooperation while reducing conflict and restoring learning time. We’re also reaching thousands more student, teachers and youth workers all across the "Crossroads State" through Playworks Pro.

PLAYWORKS for teachers and principals

Every year we survey the staff at our partner schools around the country to see Playworks through their eyes. Here’s what they reported this year:

  • A decrease in bullying
  • An improvement in overall school climate
  • A reduction in disciplinary incidents
  • More participation in academics
  • An increase in students’ abilities to focus on class activities

Stanford University and Mathematica Policy Research spent time on our playgrounds studying our program. They found that our schools experienced less bullying and exclusionary behavior, an increased perception of safety, easier transitions to learning, better behavior and more attention in class than schools without the program.