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


August 1, 2022

2021-22 Year End Report ›

After two years of isolation and adapted schooling, our students and staff spent a full year together in school buildings. We continued innovating to meet the needs of students, schools, and partners. Our return to in-person events was filled with joy, and throughout it all, bringing the healing power of play to students across New…

three people with Playworks shirts
three people with Playworks shirts

July 28, 2022

A year of social and emotional learning ›

“You can’t do SEL, trauma, or equity work without each other,” Jennette Claassen, Head of Evaluation, Playworks. As Playworks continued to progress on our equity journey, we explored a critical question: what are the intersections between play, social and emotional learning, physical activity, and trauma? A working group focused on this question decided, among other…

parent playing with kids outside
parent playing with kids outside

July 21, 2022

Games to play at home this summer ›

Are you looking for games to play at home using only things found around your house? Look no further! In case you haven’t heard – school’s out for summer! With long stretches of hot days still to come, you might be looking forward to playing some new games with your family or people in your…