WASHINGTON, D.C., Sept. 24 — Tipping off the nationwide celebration of "National Recess Week" Cartoon Network today announced a major partnership with the National Basketball Association's social responsibility arm, NBA Cares (www.nba.com/nba_cares), to help enlist one million volunteer hours to rescue recess across America. NBA Community Ambassador Bob Lanier was on hand in Washington D.C. for the announcement, which comes on the heels of a new report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, concluding that recess is the single best way to help kids be more physically active, but that it is in decline in schools primarily serving children from minority and low income families. The complete report is available at www.rwjf.org/goto/sports4kids.

"I've been extremely fortunate and blessed to work with people who've helped me along the way, so I've made it a priority to give my time and energy back to young people whenever I have the opportunity," said Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat guard and 2006 NBA Finals MVP, who has signed on to serve as the national spokesperson for Rescuing Recess. Wade will lead fellow NBA players, legends and WNBA stars in making public school appearances during the school year as volunteer recess monitors. He will also appear in a national on-air spot to promote Rescuing Recess (www.rescuringrecess.com), the award-winning campaign created by Cartoon Network to champion the benefits and importance of daily recess in schools.

"Rescuing Recess is a perfect fit for me to meet with kids and share how being active and healthy is an important part of being a good student," Wade continued. "In fact, using recess to blow off steam and to re-energize will actually help them do better with their schoolwork."

The focus of the 2007-08 Rescuing Recess campaign is a year-long pledge drive to raise one million volunteer hours supporting recess and physical activity. Top-recruiting schools from each state and the District of Columbia can earn $2,500 grants toward supporting the school's physical activity programs and healthy lifestyle initiatives, as well as $250 gift certificates for merchandise from the Sportime, Inc. physical education equipment catalog. An ultimate winning school will be announced in June to receive a single $25,000 cash grant and a special recess rally event.

Rescuing Recess was launched in March 2006 as part of Cartoon Network's GET ANIMATED healthy lifestyles program to protect and revitalize recess in schools across the country. "National Recess Week" was first celebrated in Sept. '06 to tip off the school year with fun, interactive recess rallies across the country that inspired parents and community members to become recess monitors for their local schools.

Since that time, Rescuing Recess has received 14 nationally-recognized awards for community service, program creativity and effective communication strategies. Media support for Rescuing Recess will include a multi-million dollar national media campaign across all Turner Broadcasting Networks (CNN, TNT, TBS, Court TV, TCM and Cartoon Network) as well as bus stands and on-bus billboards, print publications and select online sites available through AOL.

"Every one of us wants to see schools succeed in teaching kids to lead healthy, active lifestyles. This new campaign will help bring parents, caregivers and adults of all ages to the playground for kids," said Stuart Snyder, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Turner Broadcasting's Animation, Young Adults and Kids Media group, which oversees Cartoon Network. "The only thing more gratifying than to have each of our original partners join us for another year of Rescuing Recess, is to have a premier sports organization such as the NBA, a superstar like Dwyane Wade and additional groups like Sports4Kids, Cox Communications and the Corporation for National and Community Service team up with us to help make a greater impact in public schools across the country."

Mayors in 20 major cities across the country—nearly twice the number involved in 2006—have officially proclaimed Sept. 24-28 as their city's "National Recess Week." Their shared goal is to help encourage more schools to participate in local Rescuing Recess events and volunteer efforts now and throughout the current school year. Key cities now include Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, Pittsburgh, Miami, Baltimore, Atlanta, Dallas, Minneapolis, Kansas City, Phoenix, Cincinnati, San Diego, Milwaukee, Salt Lake City, Albuquerque, Columbus, Baton Rouge, Providence and Washington, DC.

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Report Singles Out Recess

In addition to announcing details of the 2007-08 Rescuing Recess campaign, Cartoon Network also presented a new report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (www.rwjf.org) entitled "Recess Rules," proclaiming recess play as "the single most effective strategy for increasing physical activity among children."

The report revealed that only 36% of children meet doctor's recommendations for physical activity, and that daily recess offers nearly half of the available opportunity to promote physical activity among kids during the school year. It also discovered that trying to improve children's health without focusing on recess forfeits the best chance for reaching students with the greatest need. Furthermore, the most vulnerable kids—those who come from minority or low-income families—are being shortchanged when it comes to recess. Unlike Physical Education (P.E.) and after-school programs, there is very little dedicated funding available to improve the quality of recess.

"As schools experience increased pressure to perform on standardized tests and face discipline challenges on the playground, many are cutting back on programs that engage kids in physical activity of any kind, let alone activities that are fun and meaningful," said Jill Vialet, president and founder of Sports4Kids (http://sports4kids.org), whose work turning around recess in underserved communities was highlighted in the report. "Studies from the American Academy of Pediatrics show that play is essential to the physical, emotional and social development of every child. Safe and healthy play should be an important part of any strategy for preventing violence, creating an environment for academic achievement, promoting emotional well-being and improving children's health."

Additional partners linking up with Cartoon Network and NBA Cares for the 2007-08 Rescuing Recess campaign include the PTA, the National Education Association (NEA), Dr. Sanjay Gupta of CNN, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Physical Activity and Health Branch, the National Association for Sport & Physical Education (NASPE), the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, Points of Light & Hands On Network, HealthMPowers, the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP), the Association of Junior Leagues International, Blaze Sports America and the American Association for the Child's Right to Play.

"Rescuing Recess was created to address three critical issues discovered through extensive qualitative and quantitative research conducted in partnership with the National PTA—the lack of state policies for recess, under-funding for school playground equipment and a poor record for securing volunteers to serve as recess monitors," said Chuck Saylors, PTA national president-elect (www.pta.org). "Through various Rescuing Recess program layers, we've inspired kids to write their local school boards about the importance of recess, and we've provided much-needed grants for equipment. Today, our goal is to tackle the challenge of engaging community volunteers, for which we believe we can help make tremendous strides."

How Schools Can Participate in the Rescuing Recess Challenge

Now through June 8, 2008, schools wishing to participate in this year's Rescuing Recess program must visit www.rescuingrecess.com to complete the volunteer challenge registration for the school. While supplies last, registered participants will each receive one of 10,000 free Rescuing Recess kits being distributed across all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Through the donated resources of the 2007-08 Rescuing Recess partners, this year's kit will contain a Sports4Kids recess monitor training DVD and a CNCS "Service Learning" DVD, plus a variety of red rubber balls, sidewalk chalk and jump ropes, plus instructions and suggestions on how to hold a recess rally.

Each registered school must document and track the qualifying volunteer help that the school receives during two challenge periods: round one, Aug. 9, 2007 — Feb. 3, 2008, and round two, Feb. 4 — June 8, 2008. Eligible volunteer hours include time spent being a recess monitor, helping the physical education teacher, helping to renovate or build a playground, bringing healthy after-recess snacks, helping to organize a volunteer database, helping to coordinate a community-wide recess rally or giving playground equipment. Anyone age five years and older may volunteer at the school, provided that each volunteer is documented on the volunteer tracking sheet, available on the website. The volunteer challenge representatives must tally their school's total documented volunteer hours throughout the challenge periods and submit those hours via the website within specified dates and times.

Once the volunteer hours are aggregated from registered and participating schools, an independent judging organization will declare 51 mid-year winners and 51 full-year/grand prize winners. In addition, a single Ultimate Prize Winner will receive a $25,000 grant to be used toward supporting the school's recess and physical activity programs. This winning school may also serve as the site of the 2008-09 Recess Rally to kick off "National Recess Week."