Play is a Priority for New Bedford School District

  1. Updates

Playworks New England is thrilled to continue creating opportunities for safe and healthy play for elementary students across New Bedford. 

Playworks launched programs in four New Bedford schools in 2016. This year, Playworks has expanded to serve 12 New Bedford elementary schools through a combination of services, which means over 4,000 students are experiencing safe and healthy play, every day.

We are leveraging play in collaboration with the New Bedford Public Schools Safe and Supportive Schools Initiative in order to improve school climate and strengthen students’ social-emotional learning. Playworks creates opportunities for play by rethinking recess systems, expectations, and creating safe choices. 

Fourth and fifth grade Junior Coaches at Rodman School

You may wonder what safe and healthy play means. A “Playworks recess” refers to the techniques, practices, and strategies employed by recess staff to create a playground culture where all kids are included and have the opportunity to play. A safe and healthy recess means recess is inclusive, students have choices, they learn conflict resolution tools, and—most importantly—have fun! 

Another major component of Playworks is our Junior Coach Leadership Program in which students are trained to be the next generation of student leaders and citizens in New Bedford. Through this unique leadership program, 4th and 5th graders serve as role models to their younger peers at recess and within the school community. The opportunities for peer to peer learning is immensely powerful and helps transform the recess experience for all students.

Playworks TeamUp Schools: Ashley, Brooks, Carney, Pacheco, Swift, Taylor, Winslow

Playworks Pro Schools: Congdon, DeValles, Hathaway, Jacobs, Parker

See what New Bedford teachers have to say about Playworks: 

“Since Playworks started in September, we find that everyone is engaged at recess. Students who previously didn’t have someone to play with now have something to do and others to play with. We’ve also noticed a reduction in accidents and conflicts now that students know how to tag safely, be inclusive, and solve conflicts on their own.” 

                 – Susan Santos, 1st Grade Teacher at Pacheco School 

“Recess at Rodman has come full circle. Students are now playing organized games without disagreements or feeling left out. They are resolving their own conflicts and supporting each other. But most of all, they are having fun — those smiles say it all! I’m having fun, too! 

                 – Erin Allen, 4th Grade Teacher at Rodman School 

“With Playworks we have so many fewer trips to the nurse. Before, there wasn’t a recess where kids didn’t get hurt. Our students are now learning how to socialize, play, be respectful to each other, and be nice. They even help each other more in class now. Everyone is just thrilled. It is so helpful!” 

                  – 1st Grade Teacher at Rodman School 

More Updates


January 18, 2023

Building skills through play: adult engagement at recess ›

What does adult engagement look like at recess and why is it important? Adults actively engaging on the playground is important because it encourages healthy play at recess. Playworks’ programming recognizes this and highlights the need of providing a kind and consistent adult during the school day for students to connect and build trusting relationships that…

January 10, 2023

Understanding the Complex Simplicities of Play ›

Play is a behavior that is natural and has existed for thousands of years and across species. It combines a set of made-up rules or norms and a willingness to explore. Researchers, scientists, and doctors have studied the effects of play on kids–and adults–and understand that this natural behavior has tremendous benefits. As the American…

December 28, 2022

Looking forward to joy in 2023 ›

Over the last five weeks, we have been exploring the concept of joy. We’ve answered check-in questions on our Instagram based around joy, heard from five Coaches on Facebook about what brings them joy, and found out from students what about recess brings them so much joy. To close out the year, we have been…