Recess Allies

Creating A Culture of Allyship

Recess Allies 

We hold each other up when we care about each other” 

~ Monique Gray Smith

A group of students dedicated to being “Recess Allies” and finding students that may be left out and alone and spending their recess with them. 

How it Works

Students wanted to attack social isolation in the school yard by creating a group of allies who would be out in the yard during recess for students to play with, walk with, or talk with.  In the beginning, these allies would approach students who might seem isolated and invite them to join in a game or walk with the allies. Eventually, we want the students to feel comfortable seeking out the allies if they wish to.  In order to build this concept of allyship within our whole school our social changemakers read stories at assemblies and began a poster campaign that invited all classrooms to discuss how they could be an ally to someone. The school also began to acknowledge students who displayed allyship at assemblies and those students got to put an ally badge with their picture up on our ally network board.  The concept of being an ally to someone has now spread throughout our entire school and has had a huge impact on the school yard.

Elementary schools for recess/before school, Secondary schools could modify for lunch breaks and study periods.

Recommended Materials & Resources

The “allies” wanted something that would easily make them easily recognizable as a recess ally, nothing too flashy that would bring too much attention to what they were doing, but something subtle. They decided to design & buy lanyards for themselves that they would wear when they were on duty.


  • Chart paper, markers, resources from Black Box for workshop sessions with students to break down concepts/brainstorming sessions
  • Lanyards or t-shirts or some sort of identifier for students who are acting as recess allies on the school yard
  • They also created a bulletin board display that listed all of the allies in the school and also remind the school what it meant to be an ally. 
  • Rob Fitzgerald, FNMI IRT Simcoe County District School Board
  • Avery & Laura from Georgian College, Centre for Changemaking & Social Innovation
The Process
  1.  Introduce concept of social isolation and discuss how that looks at our school
  2. Introduce concept of an ally and allyship and what that means to us at our school
  3. Work through black box resources on empathy & ideate
  4. Introduce concepts to whole school through assemblies
  5. Acknowledge students who show allyship at assemblies and on ally network board
  6. Discuss logistics of students as allies on the yard in terms of language to use, activities to engage students in, privacy and being allies not conflict managers
  7. Create lanyards with appropriate script and identification and create schedule for allies
  8. Begin with recess allies on the yards and check in with group to assess progress or concerns
Additional Details
  • This slide deck outlines the entire process and journey we took to reach our goal of having recess allies on the yard  Hillcrest Ashoka Challenge
  • A group of 30 students has been enough to run the recess allies without students feeling like they are missing out on their own recess time.
  • Kara Swaile Black, Teacher-Librarian Hillcrest Public School


Theme: Social Isolation
Semester: Hillcrest Public School 
Designed For: Elementery Students
Creators: Hillcrest Allies
Additional Keywords: Recess, Social Isolation, Friendship, Allies

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