Jan 02, 2014 • By

The value of safe, healthy play every day

With the Pillsbury Doughboy, Sonny the cuckoo bird and Lucky the leprechaun roaming our halls, it’s safe to say we at General Mills work hard and play too.

And that’s why we’re proud the General Mills Foundation supports Playworks – an organization that helps kids think, grow and learn safely through play and physical activity.

Recently, the General Mills Foundation provided funding to bring the Playworks program to three elementary schools in north Minneapolis. The Foundation also supports Playworks chapters across the U.S.

Mary Jane Melendez, associate director of the General Mills Foundation, recently had the opportunity to see the Playworks program in action at Bethune Elementary in Minneapolis.

“Bethune was facing a number of challenges with its students including low academic performance and disciplinary/suspension issues,” said Mary Jane. “As I walked out to the playground on a chilly day, I was pleasantly surprised to see a high functioning recess session in play, beautifully orchestrated by Playworks ‘Coach Kerry’ who spends every school day with the students.”

playworks kids

The children played games like four square and touch football and they smiled and waited patiently for their turn to ride the tire swing.

Prior to Playworks’ involvement, recess had been a time when the majority of discipline-related problems occurred. Students also used to spend up to 26 minutes transitioning from class to recess and back again.

Coach Kerry has taken transition time down to three minutes thanks to a clever game and song that gets kids from running and jumping to standing quietly in line. Reduced transition time means more in-class learning time. During the first 30 days Playworks was operating at Bethune, suspension rates dropped nearly 70 percent.

“For years, the General Mills Foundation has supported youth nutrition and fitness programs that are making a positive impact on youth across the country,” said Ellen Goldberg Luger, executive director of the General Mills Foundation. “We are thrilled to support Playworks as they work to improve the school environment and the health of our students through safe and meaningful play.”

playworks basketball

As a result of support from organizations such as the General Mills Foundation, Playworks is able to create opportunities for healthy recess and active play for more than 7,000 children every day.

Playworks coaches serve a total of 14 schools in Minneapolis and St. Paul, and the General Mills Foundation has begun to support Playworks cities across the U.S.

So, if you’re ready to engage in physical activity and ready to face the rest of your day with positive energy, get outdoors and play for a few minutes today.

To learn more about Playworks and their programs, visit