About Playworks Louisiana | Playworks

Playworks for every kid

About Playworks Louisiana

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 2008, it expanded to Louisiana.

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 their 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 that feeling of peace and belonging with them into their classrooms, back to their neighborhoods, out into the world.

This year, Playworks Louisiana is serving 3,000  students in eight low-income schools with our full-time program in New Orleans. We’re also poised to reach thousands more students, teachers and youth workers across Louisiana through Playworks Pro.

PLAYWORKS for teachers and principals

Every year, Playworks surveys teachers, staff and principals at our partner schools to help us learn more about the impact of our program.  Here’s what they told us:

  • 100% reported that students increased their physical activity;
  • 91% reported an increase in cooperation among students;
  • 85% reported an increase in the use of conflict resolution strategies
  • 82% reported an increase in the level of participation in academics
  • 79% reported a decrease in incidents of bullying during recess

Students who normally would never interact, have formed friendships and bonds. Students try to be fair with each other, and use conflict resolution skills learned from Playworks.

- Teacher, Edgar P Harney Spirit of Excellence, New Orleans


Playworks offers training and full-time services for schools and youth development organizations throughout Louisiana. Contact April.Griffith@playworks.org to learn more about how Playworks can help your school.


Join Playworks AmeriCorps

What is AmeriCorps?

AmeriCorps is a national community service program where people commit to serve with an organization. Nationwide, these people, called AmeriCorps members, commit to either a part-time or full-time position. At Playworks, our full-time AmeriCorps members commit to serving a 1,700 hour term of service. This typically coincides with a full school year (about 10 months).

Find out more here.