Recess is back at some Albuquerque schools - and it's better than ever


This year there's been some big changes to recess at several Albuquerque elementary schools - and students say it's all for the better.

A new program called Playworks started this year in seven schools. So far, bullying is down and physical activity is up.

Recess at Griegos Elementary School has changed a lot since last year. Students still get to choose what they want to do during their break, but now, it's recess with a purpose.

It's goal driven. It's simple and the kids love it.

Jonathan Baca is a 5th grader at Griegos.

"There's just a lot more activities to do and it's funner than it was last year," he told us.

Playworks is a non-profit that organizes "healthy play" for low-income schools.

Here's how it works: Playworks Coach Gilbert Marquez organizes activities for the students. Junior coaches help teach the rules to everyone.

And, if there's ever a problem: "If they don't agree on something you just do, rock, paper, scissors and it solves it so there's no fighting like there used to be," 5th grader Jordan Baca said.

The idea is to get every student moving.

"Everybody's out playing at recess. I never see people sitting down," said Arianna Espinosa. She's also a 5th grader. Playworks also reduces conflicts on the playground.

"Ever since Playworks came, there hasn't been any bullying," added Espinosa.

The program appears to be working.

"I just recently got a note handed to me by a 4th grader and in that note, it said, Playworks has inspired me to play," said Coach Gilbert Marquez.

"The data driven here, compared to the states that came before New Mexico, is comparable or better," said Dr. John Iacuone. He's with Lovelace Health Plan and has seen this program work in other states. He says so far, things are working very well here.

In fact, in a mid-year assessment of the program, 68% of teachers said they spent less time resolving arguments and 67% said there were less verbal and physical conflicts. On average, teachers said they recovered an average of 7 1/2 minutes of teaching time each day.

"I think Playworks is a big deal. It really changed our school. There used to be a little bit of bullies here, last year, then ever since Playworks came, everybody has been active, playing," said Espinosa.

Playworks operates in seven Albuquerque Elementary schools: Griegos Elementary; La Luz Elementary; Carlos Rey Elementary; Dolores Gonzales Elementary; Kirtland Elementary; Montezuma Elementary and the International School at Mesa del Sol. It costs about $23,000 per school.

It's partially paid for by the school and organizations like Lovelace kick in a big chunk of the cost. More schools are planning to offer Playworks this next school year.


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