Quote: Play has the power to bring out the best in all of us.

Jill Vialet

CEO & Founder, PLAYWORKS

Playworks is the leading national nonprofit leveraging the power of play to transform children’s social and emotional health.

Q: What inspired you to start this organization?

A: It was 1995 and I was in the principal’s office. It’s not what you think! I was meeting with the principal about an unrelated issue when she admitted that what her school really needed help with was recess. She’d see the same kids in her office, daily, for disruptive and dangerous playground behavior and her staff was reluctant to go outside to handle it.

I took this issue to heart and started Playworks to make the most out of recess for students everywhere. In the 2017-2018 school year, Playworks will ensure 1 million kids at 2,000 schools experience safe and healthy play every day. Our aim is to reach 3.5 million students and 7,000 schools by 2020.

Research shows that kids who are engaged during recess are more likely to participate in class, which means better attendance and better grades.

Q: How can playing help kids succeed?

A: Playing helps bring out the best in kids. That’s why Playworks exists – to provide a framework for helping schools achieve this through organized recess.

Playworks offers on-site staffing, consultative support, professional development, free resources and we also support youth programs and other organizations that wish to improve playtime. We focus on safety, engagement and empowerment. We help each school determine what will work best on their playground which translates into kids who are better leaders, who participate more, who have more confidence, who can collaborate and of course, who have fun!

Bottom line: kids who play learn the social and emotional skills that prepare them for the classroom, workplace and life.

Q: Are we ever too old to play?

A: Well, the dictionary defines play as a “pleasurable activity undertaken for no apparent purpose,” and there is no indication that this activity is just for kids! There are other definitions out there too. But I would say that play is voluntary – so you have the choice at any age to play and I encourage you to play as often as possible.