The Declaration of the Rights of the Child, created by the United Nations in 1959, included the right for recreation and play and stated that society and the government would support and promote this right. The Convention of Rights of the Child, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1990, also details “the right to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child, and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts.”
Many experts agree that recess is essential not just for exercise but for social and emotional development. Acknowledging the importance of recess, the National PTA and Cartoon Network created Rescuing Recess, a campaign that promotes recess for school children. Cartoon Network pledged $1.3 million to support and protect recess at local schools by funding playground equipment, volunteer programs and research studies.
Michigan and Virginia have mandatory recess policies, but in most other states, schools may make their own decisions about recess. Approximately 40 percent of U.S. school districts do not provide time for recess or are considering eliminating it, according to Rhonda Clements, president of the American Association of the Child's Right to Play. The association works to protect and promote play as a fundamental right, and to communicate the importance of play in facilitating creativity, individuality, and social, physical and intellectual growth. Click here for more information about recess.
Reprinted with the permission of the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity at Yale University
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