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School Recess Gets a Leg Up With Newly Released Resources

Reston, Va. — Schools across the country will now have step-by-step guidance and evidence-based strategies to support school recess for all K-12 students and enhance active school environments. The two new guidance documents, Strategies for Recess in Schools and Recess Planning in Schools: A Guide to Putting Strategies for Recess Into Practice, were released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and SHAPE America – Society of Health and Physical Educators, and can be downloaded free of charge at: shapeamerica.org/recess.

"This is a milestone in our quest to increase children's physical activity levels. Daily recess, monitored by well-trained staff or volunteers, can optimize a child's social, emotional, physical, and cognitive development," says SHAPE America Chief Executive Officer E. Paul Roetert, Ph.D. "Recess contributes to the recommended 60 minutes of daily physical activity for students and helps them apply the knowledge and skills they learn in an effective health and physical education program. In addition, recess supports 50 Million Strong, SHAPE America's commitment to empower all kids to lead active and healthy lives."

The guidance documents provide a blueprint for schools to use in implementing successful recess programs for their students. They are designed for state and school district leaders who provide technical assistance and professional development on recess, as well as classroom teachers, recess and playground supervisors, support staff, school administrators, parent-teacher organizations, school health coordinators, advisory councils, parents and anyone interested in supporting recess in schools.

Strategies for Recess in Schools defines recess and identifies 19 evidence-based strategies schools can implement that increase student physical activity and academic achievement. Although most of the evidence and expert opinion for these strategies came from elementary schools, many of the strategies are also applicable to secondary schools. The intent is for school staff or groups working with schools to identify what is currently happening or not happening with recess in their school, and then use this information to develop a recess plan that serves all students.

Recess Planning in Schools: A Guide to Putting Strategies for Recess Into Practice complements the strategies document by guiding schools through the process of developing a written recess plan that incorporates the identified strategies. In addition, CDC and SHAPE America developed a customizable Recess Planning Template, which enables schools to record details of how they will organize and implement recess at school.

"Schools can create recess environments that support physical activity, positively impact student learning, and improve classroom behavior, and these should provide all students with the opportunity to choose the physical activities in which they'd like to engage in," says Holly Hunt, Chief, CDC's School Health Branch. "These are timely and powerful resources that will assist schools to develop, implement and evaluate recess as part of a comprehensive school physical activity program (CSPAP)."The new resources can also be downloaded from CDC's Healthy Schools website at cdc.gov/healthyschools/.

The new recess documents will be featured at a program session called "Strategies for Recess in Schools" at the organization's National Convention in Boston on Tuesday, March 14 from 9:00 am to 12:30 pm. Attendees will learn how recess can help students increase their daily physical activity and contribute to achieving the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity each day. The new resources will help schools develop a comprehensive plan for recess to increase students' participation in physical activity and improve their academic achievement.

By diving into each of the five broad categories included in the Strategies for Recess in Schools document, school staff or committees will be able to answer specific questions which will help them examine and enhance an existing recess program, or develop a new recess plan for a school.

Since 2006, CDC has provided funding to SHAPE America to improve physical education and physical activity programs through two cooperative agreement projects; development of the recess toolkit is an integral part of SHAPE America's work with CDC. Development of these strategies was guided by the opinions of almost 30 expert researchers, public health and education practitioners, and nongovernmental organizations that focus on recess.

Download the two new guidance documents, Strategies for Recess in Schools and Recess Planning in Schools: A Guide to Putting Strategies for Recess Into Practice, free of charge at: shapeamerica.org/recess.

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