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Date:9/17/2008

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation makes $18 million investment in recess to

improve children's health, learning at 650 low-income schools.

PRINCETON, N.J., Sept. 17 /PRNewswire/ -- The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the nation's leading public health foundation, announced a major investment to bring safe and healthy playtime and recess to a million low-income children a day. To reach that goal, the Foundation is teaming up with Sports4Kids, a national nonprofit that has pioneered an effective model for using play and classic games -- like kickball, four square and tag -- to transform the school climate at elementary schools serving America's minority and low-income children.

"If we want to improve the health and well-being of our most vulnerable children, we have to reach them before they get to the doctor's office," said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D., M.B.A., president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. "An investment in bringing safe and healthy play back to school playgrounds not only helps individual kids, it reaps dividends for the entire community."

In 2007, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation issued "Recess Rules," a report that named school recess the single most effective strategy for increasing physical activity among children. Yet recess remains undervalued as little funding -- public or private -- is dedicated to improving the quality of recess. The report also noted that the most vulnerable kids, those who come from minority or low-income families, are the ones most likely to be shortchanged when it comes to recess.

While "Recess Rules" singled out the benefits of safe and healthy play to children in need, it also noted that the benefits of play go way beyond increased physical activity. For example, research conducted by Open Society Institute in Baltimore found that schools that partnered with Sports4Kids saw conflict resolution on the playground soar and suspension rates plummet. Further research by the
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SOURCE Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
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