"If we want to improve the health and well-being of our most vulnerable children, we have to reach them before they get to the doctor's office," said
In 2007, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation issued "Recess Rules," a report that named school recess the single most effective strategy for increasing physical activity among children. Yet recess remains undervalued as little funding — public or private — is dedicated to improving the quality of recess. The report also noted that the most vulnerable kids, those who come from minority or low-income families, are the ones most likely to be shortchanged when it comes to recess.
While "Recess Rules" singled out the benefits of safe and healthy play to children in need, it also noted that the benefits of play go way beyond increased physical activity. For example, research conducted by Open Society Institute in
"Study after study has underscored the importance of physical activity for health benefits," explained
The organization puts trained adults on the playground to introduce classic games that are disappearing from schoolyards, like kickball and four square, as well as new games designed to build leadership and foster teamwork. Sports4Kids coaches, many of whom are part of AmeriCorps, also give kids simple tools, like Rock-Paper-Scissors, to avoid fights and keep games going.
Sports4Kids works with local school principals and administrators, foundations, businesses and other nonprofit organizations in the community to identify the need and demand for the program. This partnership is a crucial element in the program's long-term sustainability and success.
SOURCE Robert Wood Johnson Foundation