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


September 15, 2021

Creating an Inclusive Playground ›

When children feel included on the playground, it gives them the space to learn and grow in an environment that they know will celebrate their wins and encourage them to learn from their mistakes. As recently highlighted on NBC, health experts are stressing inclusion for school children, which is why we’re focusing on it as…

NE Team
NE Team

September 8, 2021

Playworks Goes Back to School! ›

We know how important addressing children’s emotional needs is to recover from the learning loss and trauma felt throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s where Playworks steps in. Over the past few months, we have been preparing for modified in-person programming with the intention of bringing an impactful, safe, and fun recess to every child in…

August 24, 2021

Playworks Founder Jill Vialet Publishes ‘Why Play Works’ ›

Play brings out the best in every kid. Over the course of 25 years since Jill Vialet founded Playworks, she and her colleagues, as well as researchers and play experts, have demonstrated precisely how and why play works to help kids learn and grow in the most positive and healthy ways. Jill gathered stories from people…