Cartoon Network is taking NATIONAL RECESS WEEK, now in its third year, to record heights in 2009. The March 2-6 celebration features sports and fitness celebrities, nearly 7,000 public and private elementary schools, $100,000 in school health and wellness grants and more than 100,000 iconic red rubber balls. Crowning the weeklong campaign will be a nationwide effort by participating kids to set a brand new Guinness World Record in four-square. The multi-faceted pro-social campaign was created in 2006 as part of Cartoon Network's overall GET ANIMATED program to celebrate the multiple physical, emotional and scholastic benefits of daily recess for kids ages 6-12 in elementary schools across the country. The 2009 operation will conclude with spring GET ANIMATED events at Boys & Girls Clubs of America and a 40-city GET ANIMATED Tour this summer.
NBA superstar and Summer Olympics gold medalist Dwyane Wade (Miami Heat guard) will once again serve as national spokesperson and on-air/online PSA host for NATIONAL RECESS WEEK, representing Cartoon Network's ongoing partnership with the National Basketball Association's social responsibility arm, NBA Cares (http://www.nba.com/nba_cares). Additionally, former tennis pro and BGCA spokesperson Anna Kournikova and celebrity fitness trainer Jillian Michaels (The Biggest Loser) will attend onsite elementary school efforts in Miami and New York on Tuesday, March 3 to set an official Guinness World Record for the largest simultaneous game of four-square, a popular indoor/outdoor recess activity. The event will be staged at noon (ET) to accommodate all public and private schools that have registered their students to participate in the Guinness record-setting event. Cartoon Network will stage a minimum 120 concurrent games of four-square with multiple participants in order to set the new world record.
Also as part of this year's celebration, Cartoon Network has produced more than 100,000 red rubber balls, a timeless, iconic symbol of recess play at elementary school playgrounds across the country. Emblazoned with the network's pro-social message GET ANIMATED, the 8-inch balls are being distributed to nearly 40,000 school principals and gym teachers, 20,000 Boys & Girls Clubs of America, all NATIONAL RECESS WEEK participating schools as well as kids and families who attend the Cartoon Network GET ANIMATED Tour, which will visit 40 U.S. markets this summer in partnership with the network's participating cable and satellite affiliates.
Mayors in 30 major cities across the country-nearly twice the number involved last year-have officially proclaimed March 2-6 as their city's NATIONAL RECESS WEEK. Their shared goal is to help encourage more schools to participate in local recess celebration events and volunteer efforts now and throughout the school year. Key cities this year include New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, Miami, Houston, Baltimore, Atlanta, Dallas, Kansas City, Cincinnati, San Diego, Tampa, Denver, St. Louis, Salt Lake City, Louisville, Memphis, Las Vegas, San Antonio, Austin, Albuquerque and Washington, DC.
Additional partners linking up with Cartoon Network and NBA Cares for the 2009 NATIONAL RECESS WEEK campaign include the National Association for Sport & Physical Education (NASPE), the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Physical Activity and Health Branch, the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, and the Association of Junior Leagues International.
Ongoing Research Supports Need and Benefits of Daily Recess
Research overwhelmingly supports the benefits and need for daily recess breaks in elementary schools. Dr. Romina M. Barros, assistant clinical professor of pediatrics at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University, and her team of researchers looked at data on approximately 11,000 third-graders enrolled in the national Early Childhood-Longitudinal Study. As reported on Jan. 28 of this year and published in Pediatrics, the study confirmed that "school children who receive more recess behave better and are likely to learn more." The study also suggests that "a daily break of 15 minutes or more in the school day may play a role in improving learning, social development, and health in elementary school children."
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, "Free, unstructured play is essential for keeping children healthy, and for helping them reach important social, emotional and cognitive developmental milestones. Unstructured play also helps kids manage stress and become resilient."
Additionally, in fall 2007, a report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (www.rwjf.org) entitled "Recess Rules" proclaimed recess play as "the single most effective strategy for increasing physical activity among children." The report revealed that only 36% of children meet doctors' recommendations for physical activity, and that daily recess offers nearly half of the available opportunity to promote physical activity among kids during the school year.
The report also discovered that trying to improve children's health without focusing on recess forfeits the best chance for reaching students with the greatest need. Furthermore, the most vulnerable kids-those who come from minority or low-income families-are being shortchanged when it comes to recess. Unlike physical education (P.E.) and after-school programs, there is very little dedicated funding available to improve the quality of recess.