"IF YOU WANT TO TRULY UNDERSTAND SOMETHING, TRY TO CHANGE IT."
Lauren McNamara, PhD
Dr. Lauren McNamara is the founder and director of The Recess Project.
Lauren is an education researcher, educator, innovator, social entrepreneur, child health advocate, speaker, writer, and Ashoka Fellow. She has over 20 years of experience working with school boards in the U.S. and Canada. Her strength is leveraging partnerships to improve the quality of children's lives.
Healthy kids = healthy adults = healthy society.
Lauren's interests center around the social experiences of children , particularly marginalized or vulnerable children who often face multiple barriers as they try to develop social connections and friendships. Friendships and patterns of interactions influence children's mental health, well-being, overall health trajectories, school engagement, and quality of life. In response to the challenges that children, parents and teachers experience surrounding playground culture each and every day, she developed the Recess Project - a project designed to improve the quality of children's social experiences by impacting legislation, policy, and practice.
She draws on an ecological perspective to inform her work. She is particularly interested in the work of social neuroscience because it beautifully delineates the pathways between social experiences, physiological responses, and overall health trajectories. In other words, she uses this work to highlight how exclusion and rejection in childhood can negatively impact long-term health outcomes.
Lauren holds a PhD in the Psychology of Education from Simon Fraser University and an MA in Learning Sciences from Northwestern University. She has designed over 25 undergraduate courses that fall broadly under the umbrella of children's well-being and school change: Inclusion, Friendships, Development, Digital Culture and Qualitative Research Design. She is excellent speaker and a fierce advocate for marginalized children.