Let Them Play was born out of personal experience that valued play and community participation. When we decided to go forward with the Foundation, we chose to do some more research to see just how desperate the need was and what the solution was. We needed to move past our feelings and find the Science.
Everywhere we looked, the data supported a positive correlation between physical activity and improved cognition, mental health and social experience. It also demonstrated that the inverse was true… In communities where play, and particularly School sponsored PE, were eliminated or drastically reduced, lower cognitive performance, mental health and social experience were recorded.
This isn’t just about their bodies. Lack of physical activity and play impact a child’s ability to learn, to adapt, and to thrive.
A tremendous source for the nitty-gritty science of these studies is the book, Spark, by Dr. John Ratey. Not only does he clearly demonstrate the need for PE in our schools, he discusses the best practices in order to maximize the effects. No longer is it about being tortured to run a mile in a certain time, but more about maintaining a certain effort (measured through heart rate) for a specific amount of time.
Dr. Ratey’s explorations into the application of PE as a learning tool are mind blowing. Exercise, it turns out, may in fact be our Silver Bullet that not only cures many childhood heath issues, but their mental and social struggles as well.