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CKSD bringing peace to the playground

Jackson Park Elementary School students play shadow tag rather than the traditional version as part of Central Kitsap School District’s new Peaceful Playground program. - Andy Jones/staff photo
Jackson Park Elementary School students play shadow tag rather than the traditional version as part of Central Kitsap School District’s new Peaceful Playground program.
— image credit: Andy Jones/staff photo

Freshly painted on the blacktop in the Jackson Park Elementary School playground lies a circle of colorful shapes.

A recess supervisor stands in the center and calls out different colors and motions, as the excited children jump, skip or hop from shape-to-shape around the circle.

The game, known as shadow tag, is just one of the more than 100 games Central Kitsap elementary schools can choose from as they implement the Peaceful Playgrounds program during the course of the year.

“Shadow tag replaced tag for us because it is much safer,” principal Tess Danubio said. “With this new program, there’s been a major drop in incidents on the playground this year.”

The national program, started in 1995, was first piloted locally at Esquire Hills Elementary School two years ago.

By creating game zones with multicolored boxes and markings, elementary school students now have more options for games at recess.

“Often, with games like four-square, you would have kids standing around,” said Dan Dizon, executive director for curriculum and construction for the CK School District. “You don’t want kids standing, you want them actively engaged.”

The games also have set rules, instructed to the students by the school’s classroom and physical education teachers, to ensure fair play and reduce disputes.

The program’s motto for conflict resolution, “Talk, Walk, Rock,” is a play off the true-and-tried method of “Rock, Paper, Scissors.”

“It’s a school-wide expectation. It’s the same when first-graders go outside and when third-graders go outside,” said Hertica Martin, CKSD executive director for teaching and learning.

CKSD hopes the changes also will help in the classroom.

“If the kids are not all wound up, then the teachers will have more time for instruction,” Martin said.

The district recently received $50,000 for equipment on the playgrounds. Ted Vaughn, physical education specialist for CKSD, said the grant was part of a federal $727,950 Carol M. White Physical Education Program grant used for enhancing the district’s health and fitness programs throughout the schools.

At Jackson Park, four-square grids, hopscotch areas and a host of other games now dot the recess landscape. And for playground supervisor Tina Miglio, the difference is already evident.

“There’s been more team interaction and more inclusion,” she said. “It’s definitely made a difference.”

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