The Correlation Between Recreation, Grades, and Mental Health

The Sandbox at Madeline’s Place works in conjunction with the Hippo Wrestling Club to promote self-confidence, a strong work ethic, team-building, and coping skills for children and adolescents in the Hutto area. The Sandbox at Madeline’s Place and Hippo Wrestling Club utilize two sports, volleyball and wrestling, in order to improve young people’s lives, teach them coping skills, and offer a safe place for physical activity.

Research demonstrates that children and adolescents who are physically active perform better academically, are less likely to manifest unhealthy behavior like drug use, and are substantially less likely to engage in illegal activity. It is important to establish positive activities and behavior during a child’s formative years, while the mind is growing and habits are being formed. The mission of The Sandbox at Madeline’s Place is to empower teenagers to navigate adolescence safely, happily, and with a healthy sense of self. We envision carrying out this mission through recreational activities, relationship building, and mentoring.


The nonprofit children’s advocacy group, School Specialty, claims: “Exercise directly impacts the behavior and development of the brain. ‘It is likely that the effects of physical activity on cognition would be particularly important in the highly plastic developing brains of youth’, according to a 2010 essay penned by Charles Basch of Columbia University.”1 In addition, “Physical activity has benefits beyond improved grades, too… current research connects physical activity to absenteeism, drop-out rates, and social connectedness. Drop-out rates were lower for youth who consistently participated in interscholastic sports…”2 Furthermore, a case study found in the Journal of School Health reveals, “Exploring the relationship between sports participation and health, a study of suburban high school students found that sports participation was associated with fewer mental health and general health problems.”3 Finally, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website claims: “Regular physical activity in childhood and adolescence is important for promoting lifelong health and well-being and preventing various health conditions.”4 Specifically, the CDC finds a definite correlation between poor grades and suicidal ideation: “Students with higher grades are less likely to feel sad or hopeless nearly every day for at least 2 weeks in a row; (less likely to) seriously consider attempting suicide; (less likely to) make a plan about how they might attempt suicide; (less likely to) attempt suicide.”5

The partnership between The Sandbox at Madeline’s Place and the Hippo Wrestling Club provides extracurricular opportunities for adolescents who possibly cannot afford or do not feel comfortable with school-based sporting programs. Our research indicates that athletic activities garner better grades, a greater sense of well-being, and a reduction in suicidal behavior.


1School Specialty, “How Does Physical Activity Affect Academic Performance?” (July 20, 2017).

2School Specialty, “How Does Physical Activity Affect Academic Performance?” (July 20, 2017).

3Harrison, Patricia A. & Narayan, Gopalakrishnan, Journal of School Health, “Difference in Behavior, Psychological Factors, and Environment Factors Associated with Participation in School Sports other Other Activities in Adolescence,”, (March 2003, Vol. 73, No. 3) 113.

4Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “The Association Between School-Based Physical Activity, Including Physical Education, and Academic Performance,”

5Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Making the Connection: Suicidal Thoughts and Behaviors and Academic Grades,”