Playworks Milwaukee received a $10,000 grant from the Forest County Potawatomi (FCP) Foundation earlier this year to increase Playworks programming in Milwaukee Public Schools. The donation is supporting physical activity and safe, meaningful play for over 5,000 students from 12 low-income elementary schools in Milwaukee. In addition, the funds will help train teachers and youth leaders to effectively implement the Playworks program while fostering expansion into other under-served Milwaukee schools.
As Playworks continues to witness national success, Playworks Milwaukee has sought to channel national support and enthusiasm by ambitiously expanding locally. Launching in seven schools in January, 2012, Playworks Milwaukee added five additional schools to its program for the 2012-2013 school year to bring the number of schools served to 12.
“In just a few months, schools were telling us the positive improvements they were experiencing on the playground and in the classroom. They tell us Playworks has made a significant difference for the students. Not only are the children cooperating with one another more effectively, but they are actively engaged in essential organized physical activities daily,” says Kristina Olkowski, Playworks Milwaukee’s executive director. “The FCP Foundation shares this commitment of fostering healthier communities by placing special attention on areas at greater risk, which is why we are thrilled that our success has been recognized by the FCP.”
A recent study by Mathematica Policy Research and Stanford University compared schools using Playworks to a control group of similar schools without the program during the 2010-2011 school year in five cities across the country. Researchers found the following ways in which Playworks transforms the school climate:
- Less Bullying. Teachers in Playworks schools reported less bullying and exclusionary behavior during recess than teachers in control schools.
- Better Recess Behavior and Readiness for Class. Teachers at Playworks schools tended to report better student behavior at recess and readiness for class than teachers at control schools, and they were more likely to report that their students enjoyed adult-organized recess activities.
- More Time for Teaching. Teachers in Playworks schools reported having fewer difficulties and spending significantly less time transitioning to learning activities after recess than teachers in control schools. Playworks students were also more likely than control students to report better behavior and attention in class after sports, games and play.
- Safer Schools. Teachers in Playworks schools perceived that students felt safer and more included at recess, compared to teachers in control schools.
- Satisfied Teachers. Nearly 100 percent of teachers in Playworks schools reported that they wanted the program in their school again the following year.
Teachers are among the biggest advocates for Playworks in Milwaukee schools. In fact, all seven schools that Playworks Milwaukee partnered with during the 2011-2012 school year have returned for the 2012-2013 school year, along with the additional five new schools.
“It didn’t take months, it didn’t take weeks, we saw change within days and that’s a program worth keeping,” says Ava Morris, principal of Brown Street Academy in Milwaukee.
Founded in 1999, the Forest County Potawatomi Foundation’s mission has been to fight poverty, promote economic opportunity, strengthen communities, and provide an example of responsible citizenship by assisting charitable organizations. A major effort of the Foundation and its funds is to assist charitable organizations that help those people who are faced with economic challenges. As a result, the Foundation targets its resources to those areas with a high percentage of individuals with low and very low incomes. For more information on FCP Foundation, visit their website: http://www.fcpotawatomi.com/index.php.