El Paso district expands playgrounds to encourage social-emotional skills
- The El Paso Independent School District recently completed a $3 million playground improvement project to encourage the development of social skills, District Administration reports.
- With input from principals, project managers, playground manufacturers and facilities staff members, the district installed 19 new playgrounds at 17 schools within the original recess areas, and updated two other campuses to allow for new equipment.
- Some of the playgrounds were designed for students with special needs and others feature special equipment such as panel mazes and musical walls.
After years of decline because of budget constraints and testing pressures, recess is making a comeback. More states are now mandating additional recess time and physical activity at all grade levels and Every Student Succeeds Act regulations are increasing access to funds for physical education activities as well. In addition, a growing number of foundations are seeing the development of playgrounds and parks as a way to improve community health, which opens up new grant funding opportunities.
Research backs up what many parents and educators have known for years: recess is a necessary part of the educational and social development process. Physical activity improves brain function and increases student attentiveness during class. It also offers time for students to relieve stress and learn to connect with other people. Some educators are also now seeing recess as a time to help students deal with trauma-related issues in a non-threatening environment. As this perspective grows, communities will likely see additional public and private funding for playgrounds.
- District Administration El Paso ISD builds 21 playgrounds