Playworks, a grantee of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, recently hosted the second annual Play On conference at Columbia University in New York City. Over the course of two days, Playworks shared the latest research on play and the best strategies to preserve, protect and promote healthy play and physical activity in schools and communities.
In particular, the event highlighted the critical role that physical activity serves in academics. Quality recess and playtime help children return to the classroom more focused and ready to learn. Research also shows that healthy play is essential to childhood development and an invaluable tool for improving the school climate by creating a more positive educational environment.
The hands-on, interactive conference catered to approximately 250 guests and provided new tools for parents, teachers, coaches, youth workers and community advocates to make the most out of play and positively affect the lives of America’s youth. Attendees heard from renowned organizations and experts, including Toni Yancey, M.D., Ph.D., author and co-director of UCLA’s Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Equity.
Dr. Yancey’s presentation focused on the importance of movement, which the author also touches on in her newly released book, Instant Recess: Building a Fit Nation 10 Minutes at a Time. To demonstrate how recess can take place anywhere at any time, Dr. Yancey led conference attendees in a brief movement exercise and charmed the group with two spoken word performances on movement that are featured in her book.
“Physical activity doesn’t have to mean using special equipment or going to a particular place,” Dr. Yancey said. You can do a little 'recess' break in your workplace with your co-workers. Once people start moving, their mood and energy improves, and being active becomes fun and play, not exertion or obligation."
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation creates new opportunities for better health by investing in health where it starts—in our homes, schools and jobs. Healthy, active play is integral to the Foundation’s goal of reversing the childhood obesity epidemic by 2015 and helping to build stronger communities.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation’s largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and health care of all Americans, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, meaningful and timely change. For more than 35 years the Foundation has brought experience, commitment, and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves. Helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need—the Foundation expects to make a difference in our lifetime.
Playworks is a national nonprofit organization that provides safe, healthy, inclusive play and physical activity to schools at recess and throughout the entire school day. Founded in 1996, Playworks is the only nonprofit organization in the country to send trained, full-time coaches to low-income, urban schools. Playworks currently serves more than 100,000 children in 250 low-income schools in 15 cities throughout the country every school day. By 2012, Playworks will serve more than 650 schools in 27 U.S. cities.