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.
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.