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Woman Organizes Pep Rally for More Recess in Prince William

| January 17, 2017 | 1 Comment | Education
Barbara Larrimore advocates for more recess at a local meeting. (Photo by Mike Beaty.)

Barbara Larrimore advocates for more recess at a local meeting. (Photo by Mike Beaty.)

A group called “More Recess for PWC” is planning a pep rally event before and during the Wednesday school board meeting when they will advocate for increased recess times.

Barbara Larrimore is the mom behind the movement. She is asking Prince William County elementary schools to increase their recess and physical education time so that every elementary child receives at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day.

Larrimore’s two oldest children attend Lake Ridge Elementary School. Two years ago, her son began kindergarten and came home from school anxiously biting on his sleeves and shirt collar. He told her, he did not like school.

Larrimore became concerned that too much of the day was sitting doing seat work, which was too much for a kindergarten student. She hoped in elementary school there would be more time to play and move around.

“People say ‘school isn’t meant for boys’ because ‘they’re expected to sit still and be still,’” Larrimore said.

She thinks schools should provide more of a physical outlet that would help to increase student focus especially during doing seatwork.

Then she learned that her school only offered 15 minutes of recess a day, which she felt was insufficient. On top of that, their rotating schedule meant that students only had PE class once to twice a week.

Larrimore did her research and found that more time for recess and PE yields positive results. Benefits include greater focus for children and less behavioral issues. Students are more mentally sound and the time running around helps them to become more physically fit as well.

“When you feel better physically, you feel better emotionally. I really do think these things snowball,” she said, leading to an increase in student anxiety, bullying, depression, anti-social and “mean” behavior.

Signs call for more recess in Prince William County Schools.

Signs call for more recess in Prince William County Schools.

Larrimore thought a lack of physical activity time was a statewide problem, then, she learned that children Fairfax County receive about twice as much recess as Prince William students do. While that was frustrating, it also meant that something could be done to change the PWCS standard.

She also learned that recess times were not standard for all Prince William schools either. Some choose to provide more than state required time though her school was not among them.

In hoping to increase recess at her children’s school, she went through the proper channels. However, her effort was met with some resistance. Administrators did not know if it was achievable with all of the other curriculum hours schools had to fulfill and learning objectives they hoped to meet.

Larrimore was undeterred, believing increased recess would provide children numerous benefits.

“If we’re not meeting the basic needs of the kids, what is the needs of all these special things?” she asked. “[Recess and PE] is something they would really enjoy want to come to school for, and it’s something they emotionally and physically need.”

She knows schools have been focused on closing the achievement gap, but what if they are ignoring the most fundamental needs.

“I think we’ve just put competition and basic SOL scores above the needs of our kids,” she said.

As the No Child Left Behind policy is being phased out, the Every Student Succeeds policy has taken its place. Larrimore thinks it is an ideal time to move forward on making the change.

Additionally, in 2019, the state will require elementary schools offer 20 of recess a day. Larrimore hopes PWCS will adopt a change ahead of time and mandate 30 minutes of physical activity this year.

To make this a reality, Larrimore has talked with associate superintendents and just about everyone on the school board. She hopes they can come together to support her efforts that she believes will benefit all children from the “haves” to the “have-nots.”

To enact change, she is requesting citizen support. In addition to those who have signed on already.

She is encouraging supporters to wear their workout or sports clothes to the school board meeting in solidarity.

“I kind of thought it went with the idea of sports and getting people excited about this idea for our kids,” Larrimore said.

In addition to parents, a representative from the American Heart Association and nurses from All Pediatrics have signed up to speak for the cause.

She welcomes more people to sign up to speech on the issue at citizens time.

For more information readers can visit the More Recess for PWC Facebook page, or sign the petition on

© 2017, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

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Category: Education

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  1. Pendragon says:

    Ms. Larrimore is correct. More physical activity in schools is critical, especially for males.

    There are many reasons out there that are going to block her efforts. Many schools don’t have gyms. There aren’t enough hours in the day to schedule physical activities in a room that is also used for lunch. Kids can’t go outside in miserable weather.

    There is also the issue of mandated instructional time. Much of this time is mandated by the state.

    Most classrooms are just not large enough to include games etc. Perhaps the compromise is going to have to come in the form of free time vs. structured time in schools with limited space, especially during long spates of bad weather. Games and fun activities might just break up the day.

    Then on the other hand, do kids even know how to play and do “free time” without electronics? Probably not.

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