NJ Senate Bill 226, establishing a Task Force to study the benefits of student recess, is ready for action. Are you?
Thanks to Marie Walton, a NJ mom spearheading the effort to draw attention to the lack of school recess/PE for our children, I've been kept in the loop about this crucial bill. I've written previously about the importance of free play for children, and now it is really hitting home. Having passed the State Assembly, S226 has also been given the green light by the Senate Education Commitee, and it now must be posted by Senate President Richard Codey in order to be voted on and approved by the full Senate. Then it's on the Governor's office (this all has a "Schoolhouse Rock" feel to it) to be signed and officially approved.
The evidence in favor of school recess is building and a timely new article, "School Recess and Group Classroom Behavior," published in February's Pediatrics (the AAP's flagship journal) adds further support. Essentially, 3rd graders who had a least one recess period of more than 15 minutes had better teacher's ratings of classroom behavior compared with children who had no or limited recess. On the heels of the AAP's landmark report on the importance of free play for children, this study provides yet one more reason to establish the Task Force.
Per the NJ Legislature web site:
Senate Bill 226 SYNOPSIS: Establishes Task Force to study the benefits of student recess and make recommendations on advisability of mandatory recess in school districts.
It shall be the duty of the task force to study the social and health benefits of student recess and develop recommendations on the advisability of making student recess mandatory in all school districts. The task force shall:
a. examine current data, research, programs, and initiatives related to the physical, social, emotional, and intellectual benefits achieved by young students as a result of participation in school recess;
b. identify effective strategies for schools that promote lifelong health and prepare children and youth for physically active lifestyles;
c. examine the extent to which recess is provided to students in school districts across the State of New Jersey; and,
d. develop recommendations on the advisability of mandating daily recess in all school districts.
So that we can get to step d) as soon as possible, I am urging you to contact Senator Codey at (973) 731-6770 or at 449 Mount Pleasant Ave., West Orange, NJ 07052 and kindly request posting and passage of S226 to help our kids in NJ.
NOTE: For more on the subject of recess, I encourage you to check out Dr. David Katz's piece, "Recess to Ritalin and Back Again." Dr. Katz is the Director and Co-Founder of the Yale Prevention Research Center.