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Playworks: Supporting Play and Physical Activity in Low Income Elementary Schools

Katie Stokes-Guinan, Rebecca London, Nora Mallonee, Lisa Westrich, and Milbrey McLaughlin
Publication Date: 
January, 2011

This brief is one in a series of reports from the Study of Playworks Implementation in Eight Bay Area schools. It examines the ways that Playworks changes play and physical activity opportunities at school and reports students’, teachers’, and principals’ views of the program’s effects on students and school climate. Findings from the study indicate that Playworks led to improved structure and organization of the play yard at recess. Students learned how to play more games, and engagement in play during recess time increased dramatically, even though involvement in Playworks activities was optional. The increase in structure at recess was accompanied by a focus on inclusion, using positive language, and conflict resolution –all of which led students to feel physically and emotionally safer at recess, which in turn enhanced and supported their engagement in play. Consequently, staff reported they valued play more highly as a result of Playworks. Principals and teachers felt that engaged students were generally physically active. 

Suggested citation: 

Stokes-Guinan, K., London, R., Mallonee, N., Westrich, L., & McLaughlin, M. (2011). Playworks: Supporting Play and Physical Activity in Low Income Elementary Schools. Stanford, CA: John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities.

Related Researcher(s): 
Bay Area
Policy area: 
Youth Health and Wellness