National PTA Aims to Restore Time for Recess

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The National PTA and the Cartoon Network unveiled a public relations campaign last week that seeks to protect or reinstate recess time for elementary school children.

Called “Rescuing Recess,” the multiyear campaign is encouraging students to write letters to local and state education officials using an online letter template available at

In addition, the Cartoon Network will award more than $300,000 in grants this June to the PTA districts in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia that contribute the most letters to the campaign. A $50,000 grant will be awarded to the state with the overall highest participation.

The letter-writing phase is the first part of the Rescuing Recess campaign, which will later include public-service announcements and more grants. The Atlanta-based Cartoon Network has pledged more than $1.3 million overall to the cause as part of its “Get Animated” program, which encourages children to be physically active.

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Get more information about the "Rescuing Recess" campaign.

“Children are getting less and less opportunity for physical activity,” National PTA President Anna M. Weselak said in an interview. She also cited recess as being an important outlet for children for exercising creativity and for building social relationships.

‘Exercise at School’

According to the Chicago-based PTA, nearly 40 percent of elementary schools in the United States have either eliminated or are considering eliminating time for recess.

But those decisions or considerations go against the grain of what parents want for their children, according to the PTA. Ms. Weselak estimates that 99 percent of her organization’s members believe recess is important for elementary school children.

She believes that recess is getting short shrift because of funding issues as well as the increased focus on raising academic achievement—although she points out that studies suggest elevated physical activity can lead to an increase in test scores.

The scaling-back of recess also seems to conflict with the attention that the childhood-obesity epidemic has been receiving recently.

“It is contradictory,” Ms. Weselak said, “when they’re not getting exercise at school, at home, anytime. I think all of our children—and all of us— need physical activity during the day.”

Vol. 25, Issue 28, Page 12

Published in Print: March 22, 2006, as National PTA Aims to Restore Time for Recess
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