We are growing our impact in Oregon and southwest Washington by developing new service models based on input gathered from school communities across the region. Playworks will travel to different regions to demonstrate our direct-service program, which consists of a Playworks coach leading games during recess, activating 4th and 5th grade youth recess leaders, and running class game times throughout the day. We will also be hosting a unique three-hour professional development workshop, called the PlayShop.
Addressing children’s health issues in the Pacific Northwest is a major concern for both the public and private sectors. Increasing physical activity is widely discussed as an important method for tackling this growing crisis. But an overlooked opportunity for promoting healthy behaviors and increasing daily physical activity exists at every school: on the playground at recess. Playworks is increasing physical activity by leveraging the power of safe, fun, and healthy play at school every day.
“The Pacific Northwest has a unique balance of urban and rural perspectives that we want to support,” remarks Playworks Pacific Northwest Executive Director Jonathan Blasher. “People across the region have reached out with interest in Playworks. Our goal in the next few years is to listen, learn, and gather information to share strategies about play and youth development.”
In its 2012 policy statement, “The Crucial Role of Recess in School,” The American Academy of Pediatrics notes, “Recess serves as a necessary break from the rigors of concentrated, academic challenges in the classroom. The American Academy of Pediatrics believes that recess is a crucial and necessary component of a child’s development and, as such, it should not be withheld for punitive or academic reasons.”
A study published in the Journal of School Health in 2011 by professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine Kristine Madsen, M.D., MPH, demonstrated that students exposed to one year of Playworks programming showed statistically significant increases in the following four protective factors as compared to students with no exposure to Playworks: physical activity, problem-solving skills, meaningful participation in school, and goals and aspirations. The study noted that these protective factors are essential for maintaining a positive developmental trajectory despite adverse circumstances and “are associated with positive social and academic outcomes.”