Playground intervention gets Florida first-graders movingPosted: July 25, 2011
Peaceful Playgrounds, a group that provides blueprints and activity guides for playgrounds, reported that a Florida school that implemented the program found that 96 percent of first graders were active at recess, up from 52 percent in 2008. The results of a study of a three-year effort to combat childhood obesity through increased physical activity were recently published by the National Association of County & City Health Officials (NACCHO) .
At the start, more than one-third of the Martin County school district’s first-graders were identified as overweight or obese. The study team, convened by the Martin County Health Department (MCHD), observed a combination of limited available playground equipment and baseline data showing a high rate of sedentary behavior at recess, with 21 percent of the students avoiding any physical activity.
The study team researched intervention options and chose the Peaceful Playgrounds Program, which promotes active play and structured activities by employing a wide variety of multi-use stenciled shapes, grids and games painted onto the ground. Nearly 100 different games can be played on the multi-use, brightly painted shapes, which include circles, letters, number grids, and hopping and skipping lines. Detailed guides, training manuals and DVDs are included for teachers and school staff. The MCHD study findings also indicate that teacher, staff and volunteer participation in helping facilitate the activities enhances the program’s success.
Peaceful Playgrounds was originated by Dr. Melinda Bossenmeyer, Ed.D, a former elementary school principal, physical education teacher, and member of California’s Task Force on Childhood Obesity. According to Dr. Bossenmeyer, “My goal was simple – get more children involved in physical activity without a huge investment in new playground equipment. A child who burns off energy not only reduces the risk for obesity, but increases their focus in the classroom, and helps create a more peaceful playground.”
Today, Peaceful Playgrounds can be found in more than 8,000 schools nationwide.