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“Everyone can play:” Local elementary schools implement ‘structured recess’ program to prevent bullying

NOW: “Everyone can play:” Local elementary schools implement ‘structured recess’ program to prevent bullying

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) – Dozens of elementary schools in southeast Wisconsin are utilizing a new kind of recess. While many of us remember recess as traditional free play time, some schools are bringing more structure to the playground.

Schools like Luther Burbank Elementary are partnering with Playworks, a non-profit that provides tools to create “safe and healthy play.”

“Recess used to be very stressful for me and now it’s one of my favorite times of the day,” said Angela Smith, principal.

Playworks brings in coaches, helps train staff and set up games to help fit school needs. Students can pick from games like four-square, basketball, tag, and soccer.

“When Playworks comes to a school bullying will go down, feeling amongst students go up, student engagement goes up even engagement in the classroom goes up,” said Deborah Lukovich, Playworks executive director.

Most parents we spoke with were all for it.

“My daughter likes it; it gives them something to do so they have different options instead of going outside and doing something on their own,” said Hilaria Guzman, parent.

Some guardians think that kids should do what they want to do.

‘It’s an interesting concept however I like recess to be more free time for kids. It’s something I liked doing as a kid and it gets them away from a classroom structure,” said Morgan Fierro.

Students are encouraged to play and participate but they don’t want to educators say they don’t have to.

“We live in a society where they spend less and less time being physically active and more time on screens and this gives them the opportunity to actually have free play time and that is what they have to do,” said Brett Fuller, curriculum specialist for health and physical education with Milwaukee Public Schools.

Students like fifth-grader Emma said she’s noticed a difference.

“This year it’s like everyone can play the game you can come to join, join if you want to,” said Emma, junior coach.

Emma has a leadership role and encourages other kids to play. So far, 28 Milwaukee Public Elementary Schools have partnered with the Playworks. There are eight in Waukesha and four in Watertown.

“Some parents will like it and some parents won't but as long as you’re on board with the school and trust that the school is doing what they are supposed to be doing for your kids then it’s good,” said Fierro.

Playworks plans on partnering with seven other schools by spring. MPS hopes to partner with Playworks for all of its’ elementary schools but funding is the issue.

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