Playworks, a national non-profit, launched in 1996 with a goal of transforming recess into a tool to support learning.

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Roger Tully, Playworks

Adeola Whitney, who serves as the Executive Director for the Greater Newark and New York regions, says their organization provides coaches to participating schools "to ensure that every child has access to safe, healthy, meaningful play everyday."

Playworks helps kids by improving social and emotional skills, learning conflict resolution and reducing bullying. All of these factors can be carried over the to classroom to improve the school climate.

Roger Tully, Playworks

"They're life skills, as I like to call them, about sharing, getting along with one another, teamwork," Whitney explained. "Recess is a time of the day that's completely chaotic, and if that time is chaotic, children aren't learning how to play together well."

Playworks expanded into New Jersey, beginning in 2009 and currently serving 12 schools in Newark, Paterson and Roselle. Whitney estimates that the program reaches nearly 5,000 New Jersey students.

Since they are a non-profit, they are reliant on donations and fundraising. Roughly 60 percent of their operating expenses coming from fundraising, while participating schools pay for a portion of the cost, a little bit under $30,000, and the rest coming from personal and corporate donations.

"In addition to all of the academic skills that children learn at school, it's also important that they just learn how to get along and how to work with one another," she said.

Both Playworks and Start Empathy are under the umbrella group of Ashoka, a 30-year-old organization that invests in social entrepreneurs innovating solutions to complex societal problems around the globe. Start Empathy is a new initiative from Askhoka.

Start Empathy is a collaboration of community of social entrepreneurs, educators and parents - along with key players in the media, business and academia - working to make empathy as essential as reading and math in early education.

The main concept is that they're trying to bring empathy to the forefront of discussion/programs in our schools and support the social-emotional development of kids. For more information, log onto their website.

To learn more about Playworks, check out their website and Facebook page.

More Good News

Tour de Elizabeth

One of New Jersey's biggest cities is set to shine the spotlight on itself. The 10th annual Tour de Elizabeth is scheduled for May 19. The 15 mile ride treats bicyclists to views of the business, historic and recreational neighborhoods which boast history and the promise of opportunity.

This year's tour theme "10 Places I Like in Elizabeth" gives community members and riders a chance to offer their opinions on historic and cultural sites across the city. To learn more, visit their website.

First Annual Walkathon to Prevent Bullying

walkathon to raise awareness of bullying will be held on May 18 in Carteret. The idea for the event came from a community service program called PALS. PALS is part of Pathways, a school based youth services program in Carteret.

Student leaders in PALS felt strongly that too many of their peers were still experiencing some form of bullying, and that the community should do something to help create change. To learn more, visit the event website.

Mid Atlantic Basset Hound Rescue

A Wine and Waddle fundraiser to benefit the Mid-Atlantic Basset Hound Rescue Group is scheduled for May 19 at Unionville Vineyards. The pet-friendly event will feature food, live music, face painting for children, and various vendors offering merchandise for the home and specialty products and services for pets.

The Mid-Atlantic Basset Hound Rescue is a non-profit organization that rescues Basset Hounds from animal shelters or take in dogs surrendered by their current owners and work to find them forever homes. To learn more, visit

Lloyd's Furniture

A fixture in Somerville for over 60 years is holding a fundraiser to help the victims of Superstorm Sandy. Lloyd's Furniture is hosting a Couples Night Out event on May 17. Couples can enjoy wine, food and entertainment in exchange for a $5.00 donation at the door.

All proceeds raised will go to the Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund spearheaded by First Lady May Pat Christie. If you would like to attend, please email Lloyd’s at To learn more, visit their website.

Indian Motorcycle of Northern NJ

A North Jersey motorcycle business is giving back to the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings. Indian Motorcycle of Northern NJ is spearheading a 60 mile escorted charity motorcycle ride on May 18. All proceeds will benefit The One Fund Boston. To learn more, visit