During my first week of recess at Stansbury, I met a little boy named Brian. I noticed Brian immediately because he is the only student in a school of 940 kids who uses a wheelchair Brian spent recess off to the side, alone, watching his classmates play soccer.
That first week, I went over and asked Brian his favorite thing to do at recess. Brian was reluctant to talk, but he eventually shared that he didn’t like recess. For many kids, recess is their favorite part of the school day, but for Brian it was one of his least favorites.
As a Playworks Coach, I lead “class game time” with each grade to introduce new games. Three weeks later, I had my second class game time with Brian’s fifth grade class. We had been learning about tag, inclusion, community, and teamwork. This week, our focus game was Magic Tag. While playing Magic Tag, Brian was weaving through all his classmates laughing and smiling more than I had ever seen. The class aide noticed Brian was having tons of fun as well, and told me that she loved seeing Brian so happy because school can be hard for him sometimes.
Now, I can usually spot Brian wheeling around the playground in his electric blue chair with a smile on his face just like that day we played Magic Tag. I even saw Brian smiling and laughing while playing soccer in the grass with his classmates, instead of just watching on the sidelines.
Kids face a variety of barriers at school and on the playground, but by introducing fun and inclusive games, we can make recess a place where all kids discover their best selves.