The observance isn't listed on my calendar, but the public relations firm that sent me information about National Recess Week assures me it's part of an ongoing, nationwide campaign to inspire kids to get healthy and active, mentally and physically. The pitch that arrived in my inbox claimed that "Child obesity is a growing epidemic and recess is disappearing in schools."
The first part of that comment is spot on. For an upcoming story about healthy kids, I recently interviewed West Point pediatrician Dr. Keith Watson, who told me the number one children's health problem is obesity. Here's exactly what he had to say: "It is probably the biggest chronic health problem today."
As for the second part of that sentence, I know recess isn't what it used to be, but I wouldn't exactly say it's disappearing.
At Church Street Elementary School in Tupelo, recess is 20 minutes a day unless you're in kindergarten - then you get two recesses. It's been that way for a long time, Principal Kay Collins said, to accommodate the required 330 minutes of instructional time her students receive each day.
Students across the state already are on the move, Collins said, in compliance with the Mississippi Healthy Students Act. Signed in to law by Gov. Haley Barbour in 2007, students in grades K-8 must participate in 150 minutes of activity-based instruction a week. How they get there means different things for different schools, and the Mississippi Office of Healthy Schools has more information about the physical education curriculum on its Web site, www.healthyschoolsms.org. You also can read more online about the relationship between student health and academic achievement.
But let's get back to National Recess Week and what it means to those who actually get one (or two if you're a kindergartner). In a completely unscientific survey of two recess recipients I know quite well, I inquired about the importance of recess.
"That's when I play," my 6-year-old told me.
"I would be very, very sad without recess," the 9-year-old said. "If we didn't have recess, the playground would be lonely."
Contact Ginny Miller at (662) 678-1582 or email@example.com.