Jackie Gingrich Cushman

My hunch that recess would lead to a better classroom experience was proven later by research. A report titled "School Recess and Group Classroom Behavior" (Barros, Silver, Stein), published in the February 2009 Pediatrics (February, 2009), concluded "among 8- to 9-year-old children, having one daily recess period of greater than 15 minutes in length was associated with better teacher's rating of class behavior scores."

In addition, the report "Is There a Relationship Between Physical Fitness and Academic Achievement?" (Chomitz, Slining, McGowan, Mitchell, Dawson, Hacker), published in the Dec. 19, 2010, Journal of School Health, showed that that there are "significant relationships between fitness and academic achievement." Students who are more fit also perform better academically. With the average child spending seven-and-a-half hours per day in front of a screen, something has to change to inspire children to become more fit.

How about more play?

Providing access to green space for play has been key to my serving on the board of the Trust for Public Land's Georgia Advisory Council. Wouldn't it be wonderful if all children could walk to a park to play?

God made the world for us to enjoy. To live fully, we have to participate through outdoor activity and by being good stewards of the land.

Being outside in nature evokes a sense of humility, awe and inspiration. It reminds us of how small we are and how big God is in comparison. This weekend, walking on the beach in South Georgia, I was reminded by the tides that there is ebb and flow in the world. The storms reminded me that there are times when all appears dark; the sunshine the next day provides me with renewed optimism.

Looking out on an ocean, with no end in sight, we realize how insignificant we are as individuals. It reminds us that we are not in charge of the world, but we are responsible for our actions. The riptides can carry us out to sea, but we get to decide whether to get in the ocean.

This understanding of responsibility for our actions leads to our gaining the ability to control our impulses. After all, if we are not responsible for our actions, then we will never learn to control ourselves.

This is what an overactive government implies to people: Don't worry -- we'll take care of it, you don't have to take responsibility.

Inspiring individual responsibility is the solution.

Let's get out and play, and possibly inspire someone along the way!


Jackie Gingrich Cushman

Jackie Gingrich Cushman is a speaker, syndicated columnist, socialpreneur, and author of "The Essential American: 25 Documents and Speeches Every American Should Own," and co-author of “The 5 Principles for a Successful Life: From Our Family to Yours”.