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Let Kids Play!

By Ellen McCarty

A new bill that would have required recess for all elementary school students across the Peach State will not go into effect next school year.  Nationwide, only five states require recess. While many schools allot time for recess, not all schools, school districts, and after-school programs view play as an educational and brain-building experience.

But playtime is more than just fun and games. It’s how children can build confidence and acquire the leadership skills needed for future success. “The playground is where students can develop the social and emotional skills needed to communicate, collaborate, resolve conflicts, and lead in a healthy and inclusive way,” says Ellen McCarty, Executive Director for Playworks Georgia.

Play and recess can be an incredibly powerful tool to ensure students feel safe in school and have fun while learning. Numerous studies link a healthy environment to a child’s attendance and ability to learn. Moreover, when students are active and engaged in play, they often return to the classroom focused and ready to learn.

“At Playworks, we believe every kid deserves safe and engaging play at their elementary school, which is why we are working with educators to create sustainable environments where recess is a positive part of the school day,” says McCarty. “As a result, students are returning to the classroom eager and more ready to learn, teachers can focus on teaching while reclaiming valuable instructional time, and schools become an inclusive and safe place for all.”

Playworks Georgia, part of a national nonprofit, has worked with schools, school districts, and youth-focused organizations since 2014 to provide the tools and resources needed to ensure that every kid gets to experience safe and healthy play every day while learning social and emotional skills that will prepare them for the 21st century global workforce. This year, Playworks is serving 1.25 million kids in 2,500 schools nationwide. For more information, visit:

Ellen McCarty is the Executive Director of Playworks Georgia, the leading provider of safe and healthy play for serving 13,679 kids in 24 schools across Metro Atlanta and Clarke County/Athens. The regional nonprofit is a proud partner of the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation and Atlanta Falcons Youth Foundation.

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