Recess in Schools Means Active Playtime for the Kids Who Need It

November 10, 2009

By Amanda Chablani, HSC Policy Specialist

Recess

As
Rochelle recently witnessed, kids (and first ladies) love to run around and be active;  we were glad
to see the White House providing such a great, green space where so many young
people could play.  While we all need regular exercise, kids especially
need dedicated time for unstructured play -– that’s why we think it’s vital that
schools schedule daily recess in addition to physical education.

Last
October, the first set of federal
guidelines on physical activity
was released by Health and Human
Services.  These guidelines, in addition to setting forth recommendations for
daily exercise based on age and ability, provide helpful tips on incorporating
exercise into our daily routine.

And
for kids, school is a huge part of daily routine.  That’s why the
guidelines recommend that schools and communities “provide time for both
structured and unstructured physical activity during school and outside of
school. Children need time for active play. Through recess, physical activity
breaks, physical education classes, after-school programs, and active time with
family and friends, youth can learn about physical activity and spend time
doing it.”

While
it seems obvious that kids need to run around every day, it has become very
difficult for many kids to do so. As I learned on a trip
to Springfield
last spring, recess is no longer available to many
kids. But parents here in Chicago are taking action –- Parents United for
Healthy Schools collected almost 4,000 signatures in support of re-instituting recess in
Chicago Public Schools. And at a federal level, we’re also seeing some movement. Senator Harkin and Congressman Gordon introduced legislation
(S.1810 and HR. 3851
respectively)
to make sure the HHS guidelines are
regularly updated and made available. 

Let’s hope school districts around
the country respond by bringing back recess.  

To
support this legislation, visit the American College of Sports Medicine’s website.