Educators, coaches, researchers, and colleges can help get kids committed to an active lifestyle. These ideas will help get kids active and doing better.



  • Schools: Commit to providing recess; kids can accumulate up to 40 percent of their total daily physical activity during recess. As is, one-third of third graders do not get the recommended 20 minutes of daily recess, with students in communities of color getting less than others.

  • Schools: Offer daily physical education, an obvious venue for promoting physical literacy. Bring back intramurals. Add alternative sports that tap into cultural interests, such as double dutch and netball.

  • Schools: Grow efforts to open up your facilities during the non-school hours to community sport groups, through shared use agreements. Make better use of customizable templates. Set terms for use consistent with principles described in the Project Play report.

  • Middle Schools: Don’t just drop sports considered dangerous; provide options and replace them with low-injury (and low-cost) sports, like ultimate frisbee.

  • High School Coaches: Connect your athletes with youth programs, get them qualified to serve as assistant coaches. Kids respond to teens, who can bridge age and cultural gaps.

  • Colleges: Give the 100,000-plus athletes who cycle out of NCAA campuses each year the tools to become effective community coaches. They already know skills and tactics in 24 sports. Teach them how to work with kids. Also, be a steward of best practices in youth sports by conducting and disseminating key research.

  • Researchers: Create tools to evaluate program success based on factors such as fun, diversity, participation and retention rates, and the development of skills that foster physical literacy. Wins and losses shouldn’t be the prevailing metric.


Fig.16 [Citation]

Move Body, Activate Brain

What MRI scans tell us*

Fig. 16 Physical activity increases brain stimuli, helping kids retain more of what they learn. (Courtesy of Aspen Institute Project Play)   [Citation]

* Schools cut recess (and P.E.) to their own detriment. Even if kids aren’t running, they’re winning. Above are composites of MRI brain scans of 20 students taking the same test, as measured by University of Illinois researcher Dr. Chuck Hillman. The red sections represent highest amount of neuro-electric activity. 

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