Grants take kids a hop, skip and jump from video games

Health: Childhood games revived to encourage outdoor play

By Beth Gollob
Published: NEWS OK

For many adults, hopscotch and jump rope seem like games every child should know.

But with a computer or video game system in nearly every household, outdoor physical activity has become increasingly rare during the past decade, said Wendy Jones, executive director of the child wellness advocacy group Schools for Healthy Lifestyles.

"These are just things kids really don't play anymore,” she said.

Nearly 30 teachers from area elementary schools met Monday at Oklahoma City's Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary to help turn around that trend by revisiting conventional playground games and teaching students how to play without fighting.

Schools for Healthy Lifestyles awarded $2,000 grants to 10 schools to provide training, equipment and supplies to bring the Peaceful Playgrounds program to the schools in March. Funding is through a federal grant for physical education programs by the U.S. Department of Education, Jones said.

Oklahoma City elementary schools receiving the grant money are: Fillmore, Heronville, Horace Mann, Johnson, Martin Luther King Jr., Stand Watie, West Nichols Hills and Willow Brook. In Mid-Del Public Schools, Steed and Tinker elementary schools won grants.

Rock, Paper, Scissors

Created by Melinda Bossenmeyer, a former physical education teacher and school administrator from California, Peaceful Playgrounds is a nationwide play curriculum designed to get children moving during recess while avoiding injuries and preventing fights.

Standardized rules are set for the more than 100 games included with the program. Teachers will teach children to work out disputes over broken rules by playing decision-making games such as Rock, Paper, Scissors, Jones said.

"We have more than 500 kids and we'll have about 150 kids on the playground at a time, so this will give them more activities to do during recess,” said Felicia Dorsey, first-grade teacher at Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary.

Stencils will be used to paint permanent outlines for games like four-square and hopscotch when the equipment is delivered, Jones said.