Playworks helps Nevada kids stay physically active at school


We know how important it is for kids to stay healthy and active, and that's why recess at school is a crucial part of a student's day.

Playworks is a new program that has been added to health plan of Nevada in order to maintain physical activity in school.

A Playworks recess expert will come onsite to a school and assess children at recess. After the evaluation, the recess expert will recommend a Playworks training module. There are two standard options and Playworks makes tweaks to customize to the school's need.

After training the adult recess supervisors, junior coaches are selected and trained. These junior coaches are fifth graders who help run recess and serve as leaders by setting up equipment and leading games. Junior coaches are always fifth graders as that's typically when students starting thinking about dropping out of school.

Then, the recess expert helps "map" the playground, which is designating certain areas for certain activities (i.e. the tag area is always in the same spot). The goal is to provide different options for playing as opposed to having 150 kids trying to play on a playground, which can be unsafe.

While most consider recess free time away from learning, Playworks actually considers the playground the biggest classroom and a place for the kids to learn resiliency and solve problems independently.

For example, the game tag is banned in a lot of schools due to problems with fighting when someone gets tagged, kids tagging people too aggressively or in an inappropriate spot, etc.

Techniques Playworks uses to teach safe tag are using "butterfly fingers" to tag, saying "good job, nice try" instead of "you're out" when someone is tagged, limiting tag-zones to "USA" (upper back, shoulders, arms) and when an argument arises between two kids, settling it with rock, paper, scissors

While Playworks is new to Nevada thanks to Health Plan of Nevada, Playworks is implemented elsewhere and has seen tremendous success. For example, in 2017, staff reported an 86% decrease in bullying, 88% decrease in verbal and physical conflicts and a 94% increase of students' use of conflict resolution strategies.

Not only does Playworks impact recess, but also helps in the classroom. Staff reported a 97% increase in students' level of academic participation, an 87% decrease in the number of disruptive events in the classroom and a 95% increase in students' ability to focus in the classroom.

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