The Playworks Mission: To improve the health and well-being of children by increasing opportunities for physical activity and safe, meaningful play.
Playworks is a national nonprofit organization that transforms schools by providing play and physical activity at recess and throughout the school day. Through our on-site direct service and trainer-led professional development workshops, Playworks restores valuable teaching time, reduces bullying, increases physical activity and improves the school and learning environment.
In the 2012-13 school year, Playworks has full-time coaches in 360 schools in 22 cities. We are serving nearly 270,000 students directly and through training services that reach more than 480 additional schools and community organizations. With support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and other investors, Playworks is fulfilling an ambitious national expansion effort with the goal of operating in 27 cities across the country by 2015, providing play and physical activity to more than 1 million students every day.
Playworks teaches children to resolve their own conflicts that arise at recess and carry over to the classroom, improving school climate both on and off the playground. We help transform recess into a safe, fun and inclusive time that gets students active and engaged so they can return to the classroom focused and ready to learn.
Research shows that play is essential to child development and an invaluable tool for improving school climate. And quality recess and playtime also helps children return to the classroom more focused and ready to learn.
Playworks’ full-time, direct service model integrates the physical, social, and emotional aspects of play into the school day. We are the only organization in the country to send enthusiastic, trained adult program coordinators into low-income schools, where they enhance and transform recess and play into a positive experience that helps kids and teachers get the most out of every learning opportunity throughout the school day.
These adult “coaches” become part of the school community, providing organized play and physical activity through the five components of the Playworks program: they organize games and activities during recess, provide individual class game times and run a leadership development program during school hours. They also provide homework support and physical activity programs as well as developmental sports leagues during non-school hours.
In addition, Playworks Training offers hands-on professional development workshops and collaborative consultation to adults who work with youth on playgrounds. Built on best practices in youth development, as well as a history of evidence-based success from our direct service program, we teach group management, conflict resolution, games facilitation and other essential skills that transform playgrounds.
In working with thousands of low-income schools throughout the country over the past 16 years, we’ve found that bullying thrives in a climate of chaos, conflict and social isolation. Playworks eliminates the chaos that leads to bullying. By focusing on building students’ social and emotional skills through recess and play, kids can learn to interact more constructively with each other, creating a more positive school climate and learning environment.
A randomized control study conducted by Mathematica Policy Research and Stanford University found that Playworks schools have less bullying and exclusionary behavior; transitions from recess to learning activities are easier; students have better behavior and attention in class after participation in sports, games and play and teachers at Playworks schools perceive students to be safer during recess and engage in more inclusive play.
In a nationwide survey of more than 3,850 principals and teachers in schools that partnered with Playworks in the 2011-12 school year, respondents reported they reclaimed an average of 20 hours of teaching time because there are fewer behavioral problems on the playground and in the classroom.
Playworks in your community
Playworks offers comprehensive training and technical support to schools, districts and communities that wish to bring safe, inclusive play to children. Delivered by training and technical service professionals who play for a living, Playworks Training transports our on-site experience into active, hands-on professional development for adults who wish to bring the principles, implementation and experience of safe, healthy and positive play to the children they serve.