About Recess Guardians


Our Mission

Teach youth through unstructured play to enhance life skills for positive development.

Our Vision

To create a boldly and imaginative world where everyone has someone who believes in them.


  • Leadership - Leading the community by example and inspiring positive influence and building self-esteem by instilling leadership skills in youth. 

  • Engagement – Giving a voice to kids through Recess Guardians programming; allowing teachers to see the abilities emerge from their students. Engaging the whole community and everyone involved, because everyone has to buy in the program to result in success.

  • Inclusivity – Providing the opportunity for every kid to play and lead, on and off the playground. With this value we will ensure that the Recess Guardians program is accessible to kids from all walks of life.

  • Growth & Development – encouraging a healthy lifestyle all-encompassing of mental and physical wellness. As an organization, we will strive to continue to grow and develop programming in conjunction with our mission and vision.

  • Fun & Play – If it is not fun, we aren’t doing it right! Recess Guardians uses fun, unstructured play to encourage activity, creativity, and leadership on the playground. Fun is a catalyst for everything Recess Guardians is doing. This also is a foundation for allowing kids to be kids, which is a key to success. 


Founder & Executive Director Michael McDonald


Through an internship at one of Saskatoon’s community schools, we saw that recesses were not what they once were. Much to our surprise, it appeared as though the students had simply forgotten how to play at recess. Instead, many of the students used recess as a time to gossip, bully one another, and get into mischief. Further, students were increasingly attached to their screens they carried around—iPods, cell phones and other similar devices.

Knowing what impact inactivity has on a young mind, the founders of SBC Recess Guardians developed a simple program with the goal of teaching kids just that: how to play again.

Recess Guardians began in the 2008/2009 school year in Saskatoon. We started off running in 11 community schools, with volunteers from the University of Saskatchewan College Of Kinesiology. The first year was a drop-in program, but as we have progressed, we have a developed a structure that has largely contributed to the success and growth we are seeing today. Our initial funders for the program were the Law Enforcement Guardians of Saskatoon through Care & Share. It was a great partnership and allowed us to grow and improve our program.

In 2011, Saskatchewan Blue Cross jumped on board as our Title Sponsor in Saskatchewan and have allowed us to reach 283 schools across the province. From their support, we have been able to improve our programming as well as impact over 150,000 youth. We are very excited to continue to partner with them and expand our reach to every school in Saskatchewan.

Over the years we have also been able to deliver programming to schools across Manitoba, Alberta and British Columbia. These programs have been very successful as well, and it shows that Recess Guardians can work and thrive in a variety of locations. We are very excited to be partnering with Camp Muskoka to expand our reach in Ontario this fall. 

The future is bright for Recess Guardians and we cannot wait to see what the future holds.


About Us

Recess Guardians is a registered charity whose focus is to reintegrate play and physical activity on the playground. This grass-roots initiative started in Saskatchewan to resolve the increasing social and bullying problems impacting students’ recess. Brock University recently completely a 3-year study on the massive increase in children doing nothing during recess except standing around separated into “cliques”. When researchers provided children with the skills and resources to start their own games, they found a significant decrease in school yard fights, more inclusion across different grade levels and less segregation among “cliques”.

With the societal demands of dual income families and many children being raised on tablets and smart phones becoming the norm, teaching children the basic skill of ‘play’ has become vital to the fabric of our society.

The Recess Guardians program is designed to do just that! For nearly a decade, we have been very successful at inspiring older youth into becoming strong, responsible leaders by empowering them with the tools and skills needed to initiate healthy play. By teaching peer-to-peer leadership, we are able to build strong leaders for the future.

The beauty of the Recess Guardians program is in its simplicity. Recess Guardians provides schools, teachers and most importantly students, with easy to use tools that promote all students to participate and be “Guardians of Play” by demonstrating daily leadership to other students during non-classroom time. Older students in the school are provided with leadership training and tools to successfully lead students in games, collaborative activities that engage all students, while promoting physical activity, fun and a positive school community. We are working to make school playgrounds safer by encouraging all students to build friendships instead of fences; build relationships instead of boundaries.

Recess Guardians Testimonial

"This is my son’s first year of school.  He is in Kindergarten. He is a very active kid, always running, jumping and looking to play chase or some new game he has just made up.  Now he is also a shy / cautious kid when it comes to new surroundings, people etc.  

The little guy had a bit of a tough time adjusting to Kindergarten. To make matters worse there was an incident with an older student during one recess. It was more of a misunderstanding and everything got straightened out.  Nonetheless, at this point he was done with recess.  For the next 2-3 weeks he would follow around the teacher who happened to be on supervising duty at that time. Day in day out just standing by the teacher each and every recess.  This active kid who loves to play just standing around the teacher!!  Just picturing it, still breaks my heart!

His kindergarten teacher who was very supportive throughout all this mentioned the Recess Guardian program could help. She arranged for a couple older kids who were Recess Guardians to play with him and a couple of his classmates.  This went on for about 1-2 weeks during which time he gained confidence and comfort in playing in the controlled chaos of school recess.   After a while he no longer needed the Guardians he would be off playing with his friends on his own.  The change was incredible, it positively impacted his entire feelings towards school!

A huge THANK YOU from us, your program has been great for him and our family!  You have a champion in me. "


Setting Up Recess Guardians

Recess Guardians is a very versatile and accommodating program. We take pride in the fact that we can adapt and work with any type of school we come across.

The first step is to communicate with us by e-mail or phone and let us know you are interested. From that point, we can discuss the different ways we can work with your school and when we would be able to come out.

Our group of fun-loving staff comes right to you, so there's no need to get permission slips or take the students away from class time. We do our best to work with the students during times that are ideal for the teacher and class, such as during gym time or lunch hour.

We teach a lot of games that can be played in a variety of spaces and places. There are even games that are great for indoor recesses on those cold, winter days.

Contact us today to see how we can help bring play back to your playground!