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The Power of Play

Podcast with Playworks' Newark Executive Director, Adeola Whitney

adeola_whitneyAdeola Whitney

Meet Adeola Whitney, Newark Executive Director of Playworks.

This is Peter Clayton with a special Leadership Channel podcast. One of the very cool and amazing people I met at Cloudforce 2011 conference in New York City last week is Adeola Whitney, Newark Executive Director for Playworks. This innovative non-profit, with a vision "to make it possible for every child in America to play every day," is supported by the technology and people of thorough their Foundation.

Playworks currently operates full-time programs in 15 cities around the country, serving more than 100,000 students in 250 schools in the 2010-2011 school year. Playworks is aggressively expanding to new cities, with plans to serve around 600 schools in 25 cities for the 2011-2012 school year.

For more than 14 years, Playworks has actively operated on the pavement, grass and hardwood of low income schools throughout the country. More than just a proven model for increasing physical activity at schools, Playworks is actively helping to change the school culture and improve learning.

Playworks Volunteers, Cloudforce 2011 Playworks Volunteers, Cloudforce 2011

About Playworks


The Playworks Mission: To improve the health and well-being of children by increasing opportunities for physical activity and safe, meaningful play.

Playworks is a national nonprofit organization that supports learning by providing safe, healthy and inclusive play and physical activity to schools at recess and throughout the entire school day.

Research shows that play is essential to child development and an invaluable tool for improving school climate. And quality recess and playtime also helps children return to the classroom more focused and ready to learn.

Playworks is the only nonprofit organization in the country to send trained, full-time program coordinators, called "coaches" to low-income, urban schools, where they transform recess and play into a positive experience that helps kids and teachers get the most out of every learning opportunity throughout the school day. The coaches become part of the school community, working full-time to provide organized play and physical activity through the five components of the Playworks program. They organize games and activities during recess, provide individual class game times and run a leadership development program during school hours. They also run Playworks tutoring and physical activity programs and developmental sports leagues during after school hours.

Classroom teachers in schools that partner with Playworks report they reclaim up to 36 hours and more of class time each year, simply by providing a fun and appealing structured recess that replaces the drama and discipline potential with inclusive and engaging physical activity.

While nearly everyone agrees that kids need time to play and expend energy during the school day, most principals, teachers and school nurses agree that recess times can be the toughest part of the day. Recesses are often the flash point for playground fights, discipline referrals and injuries.

In working with hundreds of low-income schools throughout the country, however, Playworks has found recess to be an untapped opportunity to increase physical activity among students. Since nearly every school in America allows some recess time each day, this time can be an unsurpassed chance to not only get kids active, but also to teach a number of valuable life lessons such as cooperation, conflict resolution and teamwork.

Playworks in Your Community Playworks also offers comprehensive training and technical support to schools, districts and communities that wish to bring safe, inclusive play to children. Delivered by training and technical service professionals who play for a living, Playworks Training transports our on-site experience into active, hands-on professional development for adults who wish to bring the principles, implementation and experience of safe, healthy and positive play to the children they serve.

Peter Clayton

About Peter Clayton

Peter Clayton, Producer/Host, is an award-winning producer/director of radio, television, documentary, video, interactive and Web-based media who has created breakthrough media for a wide array of Fortune 100 clients.


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