'We started this because of our kids,' Florida 'recess moms' say
Last Tuesday, five mothers from Pinellas, Orange and Polk counties were on the road before dawn for their second, round-trip trek to Tallahassee this year, so they could persuade Florida lawmakers to support 20 minutes of recess a day in Florida's public elementary schools.
They're a passionate and dedicated group of "recess moms" -- a few of just many in Florida -- who have been fighting for several years to get mandatory daily recess, not only for their own young children but for all Florida elementary students.
Two of the moms -- Angela Browning and Amy Narvaez, both of Orlando -- have already seen victory in their local school district. Orange County adopted a 20-minutes-a-day policy in December with language that mirrors what lawmakers in Tallahassee are considering again in the upcoming 2017 session (SB 78/HB 67).
And while some school districts, like Miami-Dade, have made strides toward daily recess, there's still great disparities in Florida schools in which schoolchildren actually get traditional recess and how often. District administrators say there are logistical obstacles -- such as time in the day or space at the school -- that might make it difficult to implement recess in the daily routine.
Many moms -- like Christie Bruner and Stephanie Cox of St. Petersburg, and Mandy Lipham, of Lakeland -- are still fighting to get guaranteed daily recess for their children. And Browning and Narvaez continue to fight with them.
"Of course, we started this because of our kids, but is it fair for those moms who have worked alongside us all these years, and their kids still don’t have recess?" said Browning, a founder of the group Recess for All Florida Students.
Here's what Bruner had to say about why recess is so important for her three daughters, and click here to read our in-depth report on the political complexities of passing a statewide mandate for daily recess.
Herald writer Kyra Gurney contributed to this report.