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Creating Healthy and Inclusive Playtime

Recess will never be the same, at least if the folks at Playworks have anything to do with it. On Monday, March 24, the Oakland, California-based non-profit trained educators from two Caroline County schools how to help kids get the most out of every recess.

"Playworks believes in the power of play to bring out the best in every kid," says Sean Keelan, senior national trainer for Playworks. "We create a place for every kid on the playground, a place where every kid belongs, has fun, and is part of the game. My goal is for the schools to be confident in creating a recess that expands the opportunities for safe and inclusive play."

Playworks trainers show teachers how to use games, play strategies, and group management techniques to teach kids how to play well together, share, resolve conflicts, and develop leadership skills. They say inclusive play and conflict resolution skills lead to fewer disciplinary actions and better classroom performance.

The training in Caroline County schools, and earlier training in Wicomico County schools, is part of a pilot program sponsored by The Institute for a Healthiest Maryland (IHM), a partnership between the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) and the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH). IHM Executive Director Renee Fox, MD, says the physical payoff for kids is of paramount importance. The most recent data shows that more than 22 percent of school-aged Maryland children are obese. "Recently in the Journal of the American Medical Association, there was good news about declining obesity rates in young children ages 2 to 5 years, which decreased 43 percent from 2003-04 to 2011-12. This decrease is heartening, but the trend was not seen in school-aged children," says Fox. "One goal of this training is to increase physical activity for children during school time, to help develop lifetime healthy habits."

IHM's mission is to measurably improve the health of Maryland citizens by supporting community transformation efforts, translating public health research into practice, and providing technical assistance to local health departments and community organizations.ý For more information about IHM, go to http://www.healthiestmaryland.org.
Posting Date: 03/28/2014
Contact Name: Alex Likowski
Contact Phone: 410-706-3801
Contact Email: alikowski@umaryland.edu