Building a Culture of Health Through Safe and Healthy Elementary School Recess

Children smiling at a school playground.

Safe and healthy recess promotes a Culture of Health in schools by providing students time to develop socially, emotionally, physically, and academically.

The Issue

This brief describes elementary schools’ experiences implementing a safe and healthy recess with the Playworks TeamUp program. 

Key Findings

  • Playworks’ TeamUp program can help schools make recess more organized, safe, and healthy.

  • Participating schools reported improvements in recess organization, students’ familiarity with a variety of games, and their access to playground equipment.

  • The majority of TeamUp schools said that after they started using the program, students were more active, more cooperative, and more likely to use strong conflict resolution when needed.

  • Most schools reported declines in bullying, disciplinary referrals, the number of conflicts spilling back into class, and the amount of class time spent resolving those conflicts.


School leaders should recognize the important role of recess in building a positive school climate. The authors suggest ensuring that recess is supported for all students by treating recess plans like lesson plans.