2020-21 Year End Report

  1. Updates
Schools were closed. Sports were cancelled. Recess was still on schedule.

Throughout the pandemic, Playworks has been a ready and willing partner to schools across our network, helping to redefine the role of play in the lives of students dealing with increased stress, trauma, and anxiety. The support of dedicated partners helped Playworks continue to provide critical support to school partners, district leaders, and families throughout our community. Download our full 2020-21 Year End Report here.

Impact Snapshot:
  • 66,600 kids experiencing safe & healthy play in school.
  • 107 young leaders in our Junior Coach program.
  • 173 partner schools across New England.
  • 614 staff members trained by Playworks professionals.
2020-21 Highlights:
  • Community & Connection: Whether in-person or on Zoom, Class Game Time and Recess provided critical opportunities for friendship, laughter, and joy.
  • Junior Coach Leadership Conference: Over 80 Junior Coaches attended our two-day virtual conference.
  • Keep Playing: 770+ NE educators accessed weekly curated content to help them bring play to every child’s day.
  • Physical Activity: A month-long challenge supported mental and physical health through new and modified games that got and kept kids moving.
  • Indoor Recess Kits: With help from the Bruins, Coaches distributed 800+ indoor recess kits to Boston students.
  • Safe Return to Recess: Free workshops provided a step-by-step guide to help schools plan their return to in-person learning.
Results from our 2020-21 Annual Survey demonstrate that Playworks’ in-person and virtual programming makes lasting impact.
Making up for lost learning and supporting a child’s emotional needs must go hand in hand.

“Recess is a necessary break in the day for optimizing a child’s social, emotional, physical, and cognitive development… After ‘socially isolating’ one could argue that socializing children through regular recess should be a top priority.” – American Academy of Pediatrics

This fall, we need to prioritize every child’s wellbeing and that starts with acknowledging that many kids are healing from varied traumas caused by the pandemic, including social, emotional, and physical impacts of COVID-19. Helping them feel safe involves ensuring they feel included in the community, they have built trusting relationships, and feel comfortable being their most authentic selves. Now more than ever, safe and healthy play can support these needs.

As the new school year approaches, Playworks remains committed to walking hand-in-hand with our school partners as we adjust to this “new normal.” Together, we can ensure that all children have the support necessary to navigate the months ahead.

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…