Playmakers Village Opens in Danbury, CT Part of state-wide implementation of Playmakers approach
Steve Gross delivers the keynote at the opening of the Harmony Center in Danbury, CT.
Family and Children’s Aid of Danbury, CT (FCA) has been a partner of Life is good Playmakers since 2005 (when we were known as Project Joy) and is a remarkable ongoing success story. FCA provides high quality programs and services to heal and support children and families in crisis throughout western Connecticut. On Saturday, October 15, FCA invited Chief Playmaker Steve Gross to deliver the keynote at A Night in the Neighborhood, a dedication ceremony marking the official grand opening of its brand-new, 16,000 square foot Harmony Center. The centerpiece of the new building is the Playmakers Village, a beautifully-designed, wide-open interior space where children will experience the healing play that FCA staff learned from our Playmakers and where that staff will also hold training retreats for other providers from all over the state who will then implement the Playmakers approach in their centers.
FCA has been conducting the Playmakers Powerplay program with children every week since 2006; thousands of children have experienced this means of “therapeutic recreation” — a key component of FCA’s treatment program for children with significant social and emotional challenges. The excellent results that FCA achieved using our approach in their extended day treatment programs for children adopted wider attention as a best-practices approach among other agencies. Over time this led the Connecticut Department of Children and Families to implement the approach in all 26 state-supported extended day treatment programs in every corner of the state.
The crowd gets playful on the floor of the Playmakers Village at the new Harmony Center.
In order to provide Playmaker certification training to child care providers in agencies all across the state, our Playmakers team will soon be providing advanced training for FCA. The FCA staff will become, in essence, a supplemental training staff for LIG Playmakers, enabling us to keep pace with the significant demand in Connecticut. The Playmakers – FCA collaboration represents an exciting new partnership model for expanding our work that we expect to replicate elsewhere.
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!
Life is good Genuine Neighborhood Shoppe owners Andy and Lynn have been supporting our work for years. We made a pit stop in Stone Harbor, New Jersey to say thanks the Playmaker way. Take a quick peak to find out what they do to stay playful!
New Philadelphia Playmaker Lu Hanessian reminds us that play is our birthright — and that the right hat adds style! Why is Lu a Playmaker? Let her count the ways in the latest installment of our “I’m a Playmaker” Series!
Ever wonder what the children in your care will look back on and remember as their “favoritest thing in the whole world”? New York Playmaker Mari Castellanos shares her thoughts on this and more in our latest “I’m a Playmaker” series.
Is it possible to be outscored and still win? After all, isn’t winning about being successful and isn’t there more than one way to measure success? Ben and I played hoop today with the joy and passion of Peter Pan (and the defensive intensity of Tinker Bell). I almost forgot how much I love the echo of a dribble on pavement, the sting of sun & sweat in my eyes, the sound of good-natured trash talk, and the sight of children smiling.
If that’s losing, I’ll take it.
Steve Gross, Chief Playmaker
This is the first of a video series we’ll post to our blog. We call it the State of Playfulness series. We’re in search of signs of playfulness on the streets of the cities we visit on our six-city tour throughout August. In the midst of hard and uncertain economic times, is America losing its playfulness? Or does our playful spirit shine in any circumstance and give us hope for the future? That’s what we want to find out by taking our camera to the streets of our cities. Check out what we found in Times Square.