With so much emphasis on test scores these days, recess has become an unintended casualty at most schools. It is estimated that up to 40 percent of U.S. school districts have reduced or eliminated recess in order to free up more time for core academics. That could be problematic because a recent Gallup poll found that more than 8 in 10 principals find recess has a positive impact on academic achievement, and that two-thirds of principals report that students listen better after recess and are more focused in class. Playworks, a nonprofit organization, is helping low-income schools in 10 cities bring recess back. Based in Oakland, Calif., Playworks provides daily structured recess programs that teach valuable life skills by emphasizing good health and good sportsmanship. Each school recess session is led by a coordinator or coach who is trained in a variety of areas including group management, conflict resolution, child development, diversity and special needs students. They organize games and activities during recess, run a leadership development program during school hours, tutor and run physical activity programs and developmental sports leagues after school. Only schools where 50 percent of the students receive free and reduced-price meals are eligible to participate. The program costs $55,000 a year to run. The schools pay $25,000 of the cost, and the remaining funds are recouped through grants and donations. (Photo: Playworks)