Advocating for Recess


“Recess (unstructured physical activity) is so important for young bodies. They need to move and play in order to meet academic needs in the classroom. Less instructional time and more play would improve learning.”

-parent of a kindergarten student in Allegheny County

Do you know about the work of the Recess Advocacy Team?

In the summer of 2017 Trying Together wrote the post Right to Recess to highlight the cognitive, social, emotional, and physical benefits of recess and to provide researched best practices and advocacy tips. Just a few months later, beginning in October 2017, a team of 15 organizations interested in advocating for recess and play began meeting on a monthly basis. The recess advocacy team is a group of organizations dedicated to health and wellness, education, and play with a focus on recess practices and policies in pre-k through 6th grade in Allegheny County. A survey served as the first step in an effort to gather information on school recess practices. The survey was distributed in both English and Spanish and gave us insight into practices, perceptions, and policies on recess throughout the county.

Led by Trying Together and the Playful Pittsburgh Collaborative, the recess advocacy team seeks to:

  • Educate and advocate for the importance of recess.

  • Engage with children, families, and educators on recess experiences.

  • Establish a resource for recess-related advocacy, policy, and best practices for both families and educators.

  • Engage stakeholders (additional organizations, parents, community members, teachers, principals, etc.) to support recess advocacy work.

To view a full list of organizations involved visit our page here.

Since completing the survey, the team is working to interview educators to highlight best practices and policies in our region so we can learn from one another across the county. We are meeting with parent organizations interested in advocating for recess and figuring out ways to meet the needs of schools and communities to support children in their right to recess.

State policy plays an important role in ensuring that students are provided some physical activity - including recess - during the school day. Research from the National Institute on Child Health and Human Development, shows schools with state laws requiring recess were significantly likely to have at least 20 minutes of recess daily. Many states have passed mandatory recess requirements or general physical education requirements such as Rhode Island, Virginia, Tennessee, and North Carolina - to name a few. Parents in Florida advocated to their state legislators to create a law requiring school districts to offer recess and won!

School districts across the country are also taking action to increase recess time for children -  a district in Texas is seeing improvements in behavior and attention after increasing the number of recesses per day.

As we continue to see the importance of recess and play in the news, we are excited to move along the conversation and elevate the importance of play in Allegheny County.

Do you want to work with the recess advocacy team?

Answer two short questions to let us know how we can support you to advocate for play!
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