BARTOW, Fla. (WFLA) – It was the first time her voice was heard in front of the Polk County School Board, and Amanda Lipham admits she was nervous. “It was quite nerve wracking,” Lipham told News Channel 8.
Nervous or not, this self-admitted fiercely protective mama bear was ready to take on anyone and everyone. Her battle cry has always been the same: A child’s right to recess. Tuesday afternoon Lipham went before board members for three minutes and pled her case. She wants recess, 20 minutes each day, for all kids in Polk County.
And, Lipham is far from alone. It was a packed house, and one by one, moms took to the podium. They were begging, pleading and demanding change. They had the same message: Let kids be kids and give them more time on the playground. Kim-Marie Noble told News Channel 8, “I’m sorry, the Steve Jobs of the world did not come out of this system. It’s true. The Bill Gates did not come out of this schooling.”
Lipham tells us that the reason she’s so passionate about recess all boils down to her son, 5-year-old kindergartner Elliott. He told her that he was only getting one day a week of recess. That’s when Lipham decided enough is enough. “I love the fact that we got the opportunity to voice our concerns,” she said about Tuesday’s meeting. “I saw the eyes of board members. I think they were listening.”
And, they were. Superintendent Kathryn LeRoy is planning to meet face to face with Lipham and other moms in the next few weeks. Then, on Nov. 10 at 12:30pm, the board will take the issue into a work session and could come out with a decision. Until then, Lipham will continue collecting signatures. She has more than 2,000 so far.
The superintendent does point out that in a recent survey of Polk County schools, 79 percent do have recess, but that it varies and may not be each day. Lipham is sticking to her original mission – every school, every day. Kim-Marie added, “I feel like they’re just being taught to be little test-takers and have no real world experience, and that’s what’s frustrating.”