Lisa and daughter Penny

Lisa and daughter Penny

In 2007, one of those conversations took place.  You know the kind..."XYZ should really exist." For myself and my co-founder, Kristin Jamieson, it was "I can't believe there isn't a place you can go, anytime of day, to let your child run around and play."  In 2007 there were no indoor spaces in San Francisco devoted to free play.  We decided to change that.  

With a background in child development and psychology and nearly a decade of work with children & adults with learning differences, I was no stranger to brain research about early development and the recommendations from the American Association of Pediatrics on the importance of play for children.  Play is so clearly the natural classroom for allowing a child to develop motor skills, social skills, and language.

I knew our Playspace would have to be clean.  Really clean.  And safe, so that if you had multiple children on your watch, you'd be able to keep an eye on all of them despite various ages (or running speeds!).  There needed to be comfy seats for adults.  And a calm ambience - not one of those spaces that made you dizzy with primary colors.  And it needed to have good coffee.  

For over 10 years, Recess became a space in Potrero Hill you could go to let kids roam, without needing to stay right on top of them.  You didn't need to say "No" at Recess. "Don't climb on that, don't open mommy's drawer, don't... " You din't need to be their entertainer/song-singer/activity coordinator.  Just show up.  There were other kids to watch and learn from.  Live music and daily art activities brought everyone together at just the right time.

In 2018, due to economic constraints, we took a decade of experience, lessons and partnerships and distilled Recess- urban recreation into a nonprofit entity, Recess Collective.  Recess Collective is a more sustainable space that serves a broader spectrum of families.  The nonprofit structure allowed us to build off of the initial model while adding the ability to take in tax-deductible donations and grants, to allow for scholarships and subsidized memberships to those in need. This is vital in our effort to continue supporting families in San Francisco. 

The Collective part of Recess Collective incorporates our belief that no one organization/expert/parent/caregiver has everything we need to support those raising young children.  It truly takes a village, and when we work together as such, we'll be able to more effectively and joyfully support one another as we move through this journey. If you'd like to help build the nonprofit from the ground up together with us, there are several ways to do so (click here).  

Our goal is to create a space that is equally as wonderful for your child as it is for you. In San Francisco, being able to have a place to meet up with other new parents who are just trying to figure it all out is priceless.  Recess isn't judgey -- come un-showered or in your sweats.  This is a space to enjoy your children. A space to connect with other grown-ups.  To learn from resident experts. To change things up...

Follow us on Instagram and Facebook for an idea of all the magic we get to enjoy daily in this awesome community space.  If you'd like to see Recess in person, please visit us.  

I look forward to meeting you!

Lisa Nowell
Recess co-Founder and Executive Director of Recess Collective



Interested in Recess?