Playground Activity Leaders in Schools - P.A.L.S.

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Program Description

The P.A.L.S. program encourages all children to participate in activities regardless of their gender, size, or ability. P.A.L.S. was developed after a review of existing playground leadership programs and consultation with other health departments. The program was implemented in 20 Peel schools as a pilot program from January – June 2003. There are three objectives of the program: to increase physical activity, to decrease conflict and reduce the incidence of playground bullying, and to provide a leadership opportunity for students. A Public Health Nurse trains staff and students to implement the program. School staff supervise the program with the Public Health Nurse providing ongoing support. Students in grades 5 and 6 with leadership qualities are trained to act as playground activity leaders for younger students. These students will plan and lead fun and safe activities on the playground.

"We held an assembly for all Gr 1-6 kids for a demonstration of the playground games. Upon conclusion of the assembly, we hustled kids outside where they rotated through various stations. In most cases, classes were able to try out 3 or 4 different stations/games. Feedback was extremely positive and we run our P.A.L.S. outside 3 times a week working up to 5."

For more information please contact Health Line Peel at 905 799-7700


Peel Public Health Unit (Region)

Strategies for sustainability

Trained school staff (champions) supervise the program at their schools with trained students (student leaders) from grades 4 to 7 who are selected to act as leaders to plan and lead fun, safe activities on the school playground at the recess or nutrition breaks.

Impact of program

In 2003 20 schools were piloted and the results were impressive. This program has been adapted by most Ontario school boards.
Schools who run the PALS program have observed:
* increased physical activity in participating children
* decreased playground conflict and bullying
* increased leadership skills and self esteem in students through skill development in leadership, communication, problem-solving, organization, and cooperation.

Evaluation tools

Twelve elementary schools have signed on to participate in the pilot project, which involves a multi-year commitment (September 2005-June 2006 is the first year of the pilot) to implement playground activities. Participating schools have agreed to the following: Participate in the pilot project for 3 years,Identify and commit 1-2 Teacher Champions to implement the program within the school,Select and train 6-10 Student Leaders to lead playground activities at the school, Attend three half-day workshops throughout the year, Inservice all teachers within the school to ensure adequate supervision on the playground, Provide a monthly update at staff meetings and school council meetings, Participate in the evaluation conducted by Together 4 Health.

Key elements towards success

The Champions receive a Supervisor Champion Handbook with training and information on the following topics:
* Program objectives
* Supervisor Champion responsibilities
* Student Leaders (selecting, recruiting, scheduling, training)
* Program Launch (announcements, school wide assembly)
* Incentives, Recognition, Celebration
* Evaluation
* References
* Appendices
* Games
The student leaders receive information and training on the following topics:

* playground safety
* qualities of a leader and leadership styles
* communication skills
* conflict resolution
* games

Challenges to meet them

This project requires extensive coordination of many partners.The Health Board took the lead.

Length & stage of project

This program began in 2003 and has been adapted by other organizations