Over 120 mothers, grandmothers and children from Chicago traveled to Springfield on May 8th, to call upon elected officials to stand up for children’s rights throughout Illinois. In a day-long program of individual and group meetings with legislators, Moms on a Mission won new support for HB 4374, legislation that mandates recess in every Chicago public school, providing children with a basic and critical element of a successful education. Ricky Hendon agreed to bring the bill to the Senate floor where it passed with amendments that now need House concurrence.
The trip was part of an ongoing campaign by POWER-PAC, Parents Organized to Win, Educate, and Renew – Policy Action Council, to make city schools better for all children.
Lynn Morton, parent leader and Co-Chair of POWER-PAC, a citywide coalition of parent groups, said “Recess is a child’s right. Schools that deny recess to children prevent them from fully reaching their potential and hurt their development.”
House Lead Sponsor of the bill, Rep. Mary Flowers (D-31), said “When we send our children to school, we need to ensure they have the environment that promotes their success. Recess has been proven to help children learn better and more quickly, and yet too many schools have cut it from their programs.”
Mothers and childhood advocates explained how schools must provide an environment that best promotes children’s ability to succeed because recess:
- Affects children’s ability to develop socially and emotionally.
- Provides the stimulus for learning better and more quickly due to breaks.
- Addresses the rising problem of childhood obesity.
The National PTA, the Center for Disease Control, and the National Association of Elementary School Principals are all in support of mandatory recess. The bill reflects the severe decline of recess in Chicago public elementary schools; a whopping 82% of the schools do not have it.
The “Moms on a Mission” trip to Springfield to advocate for children’s rights on a range of issues including recess, school funding, early learning and child care programs and children’s savings accounts. “We are a group of parents and grandparents trying to create change for our children by bringing back recess,” said Nelly Torres, parent leader and Co-Chair of POWER-PAC. “Just like moms all across the state, we want our children to have a chance to succeed.” POWER-PAC parents were recognized with a “Mother’s Day” Resolution of Support on the State House floor saluting mothers (and grandmothers) who stand up for the for their children’s right.
POWER-PAC is a citywide organization of low-income African-American and Latino parents working to improve schools and communities for their children. Moms on a Mission brought together leaders from groups including Austin-Wide Parent Network, Family Focus – Englewood, Lawndale and Humboldt Park, Healthy Schools Campaign, Little Village Environmental Justice Organization and West Town Leadership United.