To children, play is the language of love, connection and acceptance.


There are so many worthwhile charities out there, and so many children whose daily needs are met by those charities, that you may ask yourself: why is bringing play so important to a child? What power can that have when there are so many other problems they still face?

The answer is simple: for children, play – and the connection with other people that it can provide – is an essential part of a happy life. A full belly and a roof over their heads is essential to living. Play is essential to feeling alive.

It’s about human connection

Play is the universal language for children. If I walk up to a child with a ball in my hand, and we begin to play together, immediately we have a relationship. They can learn life skills, they can develop self-esteem. It’s instant and the power is beyond words.

I have seen it myself many times through Play-It-Forward Projects. These projects are designed to help disadvantaged youth develop and grow in all areas: physically, socially, emotionally and mentally. They revolve around teaching athletics, fitness, health and wellness education, dance, gymnastics, sport basics… but they really teach life skills through games and cooperative play activities.

Just as importantly, they give children a chance to make real personal and physical connections with other children and with caring adults. I have watched children come alive in these programs.

The power of play is the power of connection.

It’s not only in the worst situations that you can see the biggest differences. Children who may have refrained from activites because of being bullied or marginalized can suddenly feel free to participate. Remove labels – the names they are called by other children, the names they are called by the world – remove marginalization, and you can really see a child for who they are. AMore importantly, they can see themselves.

Play isn’t something children should get to do when every other problem is solved. It is something they should get to do every day – because what it means they are really getting to do is be children.

From Darlene “The Bean”

Learn more about Play-It-Forward Projects and see what play can do.

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