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Punita Thurman joins Coalition for Michigan Schoolchildren’s Right to Play

This piece was adapted from a press release from Playworks Michigan.

DETROIT , April 15, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Playworks Michigan , a nonprofit affiliate working to keep kids active and healthy through play and recess, announced the convening of a new coalition to raise awareness about recess in schools and support statewide advocacy for increased access to recess and opportunities for play in Michigan schools. The Coalition for Michigan Schoolchildren’s Right to Play will support access to safe and healthy play every day at school to positively impact children’s physical, social, and emotional development.

“Following the recent online and in-person learning changes throughout the pandemic, curriculum is being reshaped for the fall,” said Paul Liabenow , Executive Director of the Michigan Elementary and Middle School Principal’s Association. “As these conversations are happening, we want educators and parents to be aware of the benefits of recess especially after a year of online learning and limited interaction.”

The Coalition is made up of more than 20 members including:

  • Dennis Archer, Jr., CEO Ignition Media Group & President of Archer Corporate Services
  • Michael Domagalski, Principal, East China School District
  • Kathy Donovan, CEO, Children’s Hospital of Michigan
  • David Egner, President & CEO, Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation
  • Sheila Ford Hamp, Principal Owner, Detroit Lions
  • Dr. Rebecca Hasson, Associate Professor of Kinesiology, University of Michigan & Director of Childhood Disparities Research Laboratory
  • Vinnie Johnson, Chairman & CEO, Piston Group
  • Wright Lassiter III, President and CEO, Henry Ford Health System
  • Paul Liebenow, Executive Director, Michigan Elementary and Middle School Principals Association
  • Jenell Mansfield, Political and Legislative Coordinator, American Federation of Teachers – Michigan
  • Dr. Steve Matthews, Superintendent, Novi Community Schools
  • Carlynn Nicols, Chief Clinical Officer, Children’s Center of Wayne County
  • Jalen Rose, Founder, Jalen Rose Leadership Academy
  • Matt Simoncini, CEO (retired), Lear Corporation
  • Brett Smith, MEA Secretary Treasurer, Michigan Education Association
  • Jason Smith, Executive Director, Michigan Center for Youth Justice
  • Dr. Herb Smithersan, Vice Dean of Diversity and Community Affairs and Associate Professor of Internal Medicine and the Karmanos Cancer Institute
  • Misha Stallworth, School Board Member, Detroit Public Schools Community District
  • Peri Stone-Palmquist, Executive Director, Student Advocacy Center of Michigan
  • Punita Thurman, Vice President, The Skillman Foundation
  • Mike VanGessel, Founder CEO, Rockford Construction
  • Anthony Wickersham, Macomb County Sheriff, Macomb County Sheriff Department

There are currently no guidelines requiring Michigan schools to provide recess time nor are there any stipulations to prevent schools from removing recess. The following are the current guidelines schools must adhere to:

  • The state does not require elementary schools to provide daily recess and does not require a minimum weekly amount of physical activity time for elementary, middle school/junior high, or high school students.
  • There is a State Board of Education policy regarding physical activity time for students, but it does not have a requirement for the number of minutes.
  • The state does not have a method for enforcing the physical education requirements.
  • The state does not annually assess the availability of appropriate equipment and adequate facilities for students to engage in recess or play.
  • The state requires schools or school districts to provide their local school wellness policy to the state education agency, but does not require the policy to be posted online for the public nor does it monitor the implementation of local school wellness policies.

In the last decade, nearly half of all school districts nationwide have either completely eliminated or reduced specified time for recess and only 22 percent of school districts require daily recess for elementary school students with less than half of these requiring at least 20 minutes of recess per day, while the CDC recommends children should be active for at least 60 minutes a day. This is particularly concerning when 30.6 percent of children in Michigan are considered either overweight or obese.

The mission of the Coalition for Michigan Schoolchildren’s Right to Play is to ensure that every elementary student in the State of Michigan has increased access to play and recess as a part of their school day.

Through the support of the Michigan Health Endowment Fund , Playworks Michigan serves as the convener of this incredibly important coalition of civic, educational, and business leaders.

The Skillman Foundation

A voice for children since 1960, The Skillman Foundation is a private philanthropy that serves as a fierce champion of Detroit children. The Foundation works to ensure Detroit youth achieve their highest aspirations by strengthening K-12 public education, afterschool learning opportunities, and college and career pathways.

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