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Nonprofit Re-Purposes Recess Chaos to Encourage Fitness

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TWC News: Bronx Organization Re-Purposes Recess Chaos to Encourage Fitness
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Rather than letting recess go to waste, education not-for-profit Asphalt Green is harnessing it as a time to instill in students a lifelong love of movement. NY1's Erin Clarke filed the following report.

It may look like an outdoor gym class or field day for these elementary school students, but they're actually on recess.

It just doesn't look much like the recess most of us remember, you know, with kids running wild, screaming and playing tag.

"Recess is usually a time that principals hate because if kids are going to get in trouble it's going to happen at recess," says Asphalt Green Executive Director Carol Tweedy.

But instead, students at P.S. 443X and P.S. 457X, two schools that share building space, spend their free time in structured activities created by a coach from the Recess Enhancement Program run by the not-for-profit Asphalt Green, which shares a name with the building where many of its activities take place.

Something structured might seem like the last thing kids would want to do after being in class all morning, but they're enjoying themselves.

"We make it fun and what we're doing is we're really creating the fitness foundation so that these are life long skills that kids can take with them through the rest of their lives," says Arlen Zamula, Associate Director of the Recess Enhancement Program.

And it's making a difference among the more than 27,000 students the program serves city-wide.

"Now, ever since I was in this program, it helped me get stronger," says one student.

Asphalt Green has added the program to a handful of schools in the Bronx this year, bringing the total to 21 and focusing on areas where health concerns are high.

"The Bronx is also the poorest borough in the city and obesity is very well tracked to poverty. In general, the environments of poor communities, kind of conspire to make it difficult for people to live healthy lives," says Dr. Jane Bedell, the city's assistant health commissioner.

Noting that the program also focuses on creating activities that can work anywhere, especially in city schools where space is at a premium.

"We have games that are appropriate for the auditorium, for the cafeteria, even the hallway. Any space you give us, we can be active in," says Zamula.

Asphalt Green is teaching children that being healthy can be an enjoyable part of every day, no matter where you live. ClientIP:, UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 ( Profile: TWCSAMLSP