Photo of Dylan with Chief Playmaker, Steve Gross, at the Life is good Festival, September 24, 2011
By Dylan Gibbs, 12
With a little help from my mom, Hope Katz Gibbs.
For my 8th birthday, my grandparents bought me my first Life is good T-shirt. It was really soft, the color of the night sky, and featured a superhero named Jake—playing basketball, my favorite sport. I wanted to wear it to school every day that week. After day three, my dad just laughed as he put me into the car and took me to the nearest Life is good shop in Old Town, Alexandria, VA, to buy more.
I’m 12 now, and haven’t worn anything but a Life is good shirt ever since (I even wear them under my Boy Scout uniform). I recently checked, and I have 24 of these Ts in my dresser—including a few that I outgrew, plus two that I turned into pillows for my bed.
My heroes are Bert and John Jacobs, the founders of Life is good. What I like about them the most is that they make shirts that are really comfortable, and their optimistic message spreads good vibes. Plus, I love the fact that they created such a big company out of a simple idea, and that they work hard doing what they love. That’s what I want to do when I grow up.
So when I learned that on September 24-25 there would be a Life is Good Music Festival in Boston to benefit The Life is Playmakers, I wanted to support it. I created a fundraiser page, made fliers, sent emails to my friends and family, and by the time of the fundraiser, my friends, family, teachers, and neighbors helped me raise a grand total of $2,150. How did we do it? Click here for details about our big backyard fundraiser : http://inkandescentpr.com/article/?c=life-is-good
I have to admit that putting on this fundraiser made me a little nervous because I never took on a big project like this before. My parents helped a ton, and also convinced me that although I wanted this to be something we did as a family — the key was to get our friends and neighbors to help us so that it would be really extraordinary. They were right! My mom and I had a bunch of meetings, and made a ton of phone calls, and in the end a whopping 25 families worked with us (kids and grown-ups alike) to distribute flyers, make signs, and donate bottles of water, lemonade, and homemade cookies for our big refreshment stand. Others played music, organized our art project to createLife is good posters, helped with our backyard games and races, and made sure that the face painting and art projects went off without a hitch. Local businesses also were generous about donating prizes and supplies, too. And our friend Dana Schaffer took photos.
Best of all, everyone told us that they wanted to make this an even bigger festival next year. So take it from a 7th grader: No matter what happens, Life is good!
Check out this article featured on Boston.com about the generous and motivated students at Dorchester Academy who sold ribbons to raise funds for The Life is good Playmakers’ work in Haiti. The article features our very own Ant Toombs, who visited the students to thank them for their support. After sharing our Playmaker philosophy and theoretical framework with these inspiring students, Ant updated them on our Haiti Initiative as well:
We have some exciting news to share – a documentary on Project Joy created by our longtime friend Aimee Corrigan was accepted to and screened at the Boston International Film Festival on Saturday, April 24th. Wahoo! A Break in the Clouds is a deeply moving documentary capturing Project Joy’s extensive work on the Mississippi Gulf Coast helping children traumatized by Hurricane Katrina.
Check out the trailer of the film below!
Stay tuned for more info on how you, your family, and your friends can see the film….
“Pay attention to the little things, because someday you realize that the little things really are the big things.”
So, we’re going to Denmark to do another training with the Danish Red Cross, this time at the Lynge School. We’ll be working with the entire staff of teachers at this school, which teaches asylum-seeking children how to speak Danish and some other basic education while they are awaiting their “answer” from the Danish government whether they are given refugee status or instructed to return to their country of origin. The psychologist we’re working with, Hanne, who organized this training in Lynge says that most of the children lately are coming from Afghanistan and Chechnya, and that the journeys for so many of these children are quite traumatizing. And we haven’t even begun to hear about what they experienced before they took those journeys. That’s what we’ll be doing for the next four days, but the story for today is about the first few moments in Boston Logan Airport’s International terminal. I arrived with our two HUGE yellow duffel bags with all our training equipment for the trip. Steve and Jodi had already checked in and gone through security, as they had arrived before me at the airport.
Because I can’t check in three bags of my own, I had to call Steve and have him come back out through security to check one of the bags on his ticket. We met at the ticket counter and waited for our turn. A happy-looking man waved us over. I handed him my passport to check in and said, “Hi.” Steve said, “How you doin’ brother?” Ismail replied politely and asked if I was checking in. He also explained to us about the number of bags we can check and how much it will cost for the number we have. Then he weighed the bags. There’s always a weight limit. And we always pack heavy! So, he prints my boarding pass and then shows us the ticket for the bags…and then he leans in over the counter and motions to us to do the same. He confidently whispered to us, with a genuine smile on his face, “Now, normally your bags cost $50 each, but if they are over the weight limit it is an additional $100 per bag. And both of your bags are way over the limit. But I’m only going to charge you for the cost of the bags and I’ll tell you why I’m going to do that. Because when you walked up here, this man said, ‘How you doin’ brother?’ That means something and it makes a connection. You called me brother, and I’ll do this for you.”
Hey, working for a non-profit, it’s nice to save a buck or two when the right person is able to waive a fee. But when we think about what really happened at that ticket counter, we didn’t just save some money—we made a connection. And our brothers and sisters are everywhere: behind ticket counters, serving food, working at asylum schools, leading NGOs, and a million other places where they can make a difference in our days in very significant ways. And all it takes sometimes to open that door and make a difference in their day is to ask, “How you doin’ brother?”
The Playmakers of New England have been gathering for one evening a month at the PJ office in Boston since February 2010 for Community of Playfulness meetings. You might be asking yourself, “What is a Community of Playfulness anyway?” The term Community of Playfulness describes our community of PJ Playmakers. The goal of the meetings is to bring a group of Playmakers together on a regular basis to play, share ideas, and support each other as we spread playfulness throughout our communities, our classrooms and, most importantly, our homes. We believe that folks like us (who dedicate much of our lives to helping children deeply impacted by trauma) need a supportive community to help keep us passionate and strong. So once a month we get together to share some food, reconnect with others in the field, discuss our challenges and triumphs, and play some games together.
We laugh, we talk, and we play – it’s a joyous occasion. In case you don’t believe me, just take a look at the photo below taken at our last COP meeting on March 25th.
Playmakers in attendance play a rousing game of “Parachute Surprise.”
It was a field day for all ages on Saturday, June 20th, with watermelon seed spitting, ice cream eating contests, flying discs, ball games, a 50-foot parachute, a 30 foot high Art for All mural (made of 2,000 individually painted tiles!), infectious smiles, and a non-stop groove of great tunes and good vibes flowing all over the nation’s oldest public park, Boston Common. Over 25,000 people came out to play, and more than $170,000 was raised for Project Joy!
Check out some pictures from the festivities below: