Some studies suggest that recess and physical education are on the decline in many school districts. But Oakland-based social entrepreneur Jill Vialet is working to keep play in the nation’s school playgrounds.

As part of our ongoing “First Person” interview series, we check in with the founder of Playworks about her efforts to promote recess and physical activity for kids in inner city schools across the country.

First Person: Jill Vialet 26 April,2011forum

Jill Vialet, president and founder of Playworks, an Oakland-based organization that promotes play and physical activity in low-income urban schools

  • David

    Jill Vialet’s description of her childhood experience of “self” organized play, exactly matches my own – 30 to 40 neighborhood kids running their own show and learning from it. What I see now is almost no unorganized, non-goal-oriented activity for children, so I applaud what she is doing.

    I have a niece who would be a fantastic coach – does Playworks have Summer interns?

  • I never understand why we don’t extend school day. if school day is extended there will be enough time for recess. US prob. has one of the shortest school day out of schools frm different countries. also our current school day creates a problem for parents who need to work from 9 to 5.

    I guess the teachers Union prob. will be opposed to that and some parents too. (really US teachers have smaller class and short working days compare to other countries. but that’s another coversation). We can add a mandatory extracurrilum class at the end of the day where kids can pick their own class of interest be it sports, music, game or academic. and teachres can become an adviser of that club. Japan does this. and some other countries also do this.

    this just solves alot of scheduling problems for parents and it adds play time and kids are not out trolling the streets after school.

  • a mom in San francisco

    i am so glad to have turned the radio on today. last October my 17 year old son died from a fractured skull while playing a game of football during recess on an asphalt surface. Weeks prior to his fall a boy had broken his arm playing the same game. And they are still playing this game at this school. Do you include High Schools in your business? I also run an elementary after school program and would like to be able to contact you regarding both getting your program into High Schools and also into my own after school program. How do I do this.

  • Anuja

    Hi, I heard the first half of your program and cannot any more since am at work but had one comment. I have to say my tail was wagging while listening to Jill. I own a yoga studio in south San Jose and would like to see how we can participate – one either bringing yoga to your games and/or second how can we as a studio help be part of your organization?

    I will get in touch with you and see how we can work together. I too grew up playing outdoors in India with friends where I learnt some basic skills and kept out of trouble. I lived for those moments.

    Anuja – owner of Almaden Yoga in Almaden Valley

  • Bob Fry

    I was the klutzy kid all through school and was picked last, etc. BFD. I grew up to be an engineer and still a klutz. Trying to be inclusive for everyone in everything simply dumbs down the activity. I am sure glad that math and science wasn’t dumbed down so the jocks could take it.

  • danS

    Props to KQED and major PROPS to Jill! Mocha and Sports4Kids now “Playworks” have been vital parts of the Bay, and now the nation, for years. The health, social, mental benefits are clear from the research. But practically, it’s just so clear play = healthy. empathic, safe kids and adults. Thank you! Jill you’re a baller!!! (you are too Michael) Dan S. in Oakland

  • Susan

    Young children create their own play with their own rules. Games with rules generally enter a child’s life at about ages five and six. As children grow they add games with rules to their repertoire without discarding the creative play they enjoyed earlier. Often children will use the things they find at hand to generate their creative play. Early childhood educators call these found things ‘loose parts’. As adults, we are responsible to monitor prospective loose parts so that children’s play remains safe. We can prepare the environment in order to welcome children of any age who prefer creative play. Games with rules add an important developmental dimension to children’s lives; they are not the only play that children or adults participate in. Variety is good for all of us.

  • Chris

    What a smart, common sense way to support our kids and our schools. I love that play and Playworks are not an either/or solution to learning and teaching. Rather, a well-run, active recess helps in the classroom. Kudos to Jill for starting such a program. And props to the people who make it work in the schools. Clearly it has an amazing impact on all. Success!

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