In a few short days the ultimate road trip will begin for the Life is good Playmakers Team, as we travel 1,200 miles from Boston to Biloxi to train and certify 350 new Playmakers in six cities who will positively impact the lives of thousands of children. One team. One awesome RV (thanks, Airstream!). One Hybrid Truck. One Video Camera. Several hundred fleece balls and a shared mission to spread ripples of joy that will inspire additional ripples that together will build a current so strong that it will sweep down even the greatest walls of fear, despair and loneliness (okay, that’s actually a shameless rip off of Robert F. Kennedy’s speech, but he said it so eloquently in 1966.)
When this Playmakers Summer Tour idea was born, the goal was to mobilize our movement (because a movement, by nature, has to be mobile) and to shine our collective light on places that truly need it. Several months later, after hundreds of phone calls, emails, meetings, interviews, road trips, equipment purchases, solicitations, headaches, sleepless nights, acid reflux and giddiness, this crazy idea has become a reality. It’s gonna be something special!
Below are my top ten goals for the trip (in no particular order).
1. Get to where we’ve got to go safely (namely Norwood, New York, Philly, DC, Tuscaloosa, Mississippi – and a bunch of places in-between).
2. Inspire some 350 child care providers to form more joyful, loving, empowering and inspiring relationships with children.
3. Make unforgettable memories.
4. Grow closer as a team.
5. Listen and learn.
6. Make some noise and inspire others to take action to spread joy and alleviate suffering.
7. Share our stories.
8. Raise awareness.
9. Laugh often and make thousands of people smile.
10. Avoid a nervous breakdown.
Our team plans to share much with our supporters in photos and videos that capture insights into the state of playfulness in America’s cities, inspirational moments, Playmaker profiles, and just plain silliness. Stay tuned.
On Wednesday, July 20th, Myra Kraft, President of the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation and wife of Patriots owner Robert Kraft, passed away after a long battle with cancer at the age of 68. Near and dear to the New England community as well as the greater national philanthropic community, Myra was a champion of hands-on community service. Her constant involvement in, and leadership of, numerous charitable organizations and community programs displayed her generous soul and compassionate character. Life is good Playmakers have always said that to us, a Playmaker is someone who takes action to make great things happen for children at a time when they need it most. Although Myra was not a certified Playmaker, she is a prime example and role model for Playmakers everywhere. She improved countless children’s lives, including Boston’s children during her many years leading the Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston. She lived her life as a passionately involved, active optimist, and she possessed in abundance those capabilities and qualities that define a Playmaker: creativity, joy, a deep connection to others, empathy and, above all, love. Lives of great strength and beauty inspire us. Myra Kraft remains a true inspiration for all who dedicate themselves to others.
Last Thursday night, June 30th, the Life is good Playmakers hosted the 4th annual Playmakers Ball at Showcase Live at Patriot Place! The night was a celebration of Playmakers everywhere and their continued dedication to children. Playmaker Trainer, rapper, and sharply-dressed stage MC Ant Toombs kept it all together and flowing. Guests enjoyed dinner and drinks while entertaining one another in an open-mic talent showcase. Highlights of the night included karaoke (especially a rousing rendition of “It’s Raining Men” so hot we can’t even post the pics!), Playmaker Trainer Emily Saul’s homemade parachute gown, and the 2nd annual presentation of the Howeser Award.
The Howeser award commemorates late founding Playmaker Jesse Howes, who last year lost his battle with cancer but who remains fully alive in our work. The award is given to a Playmaker who, like Jesse, shows “a deep love for and commitment to children and an unquenchably playful spirit.” This year’s recipient was Lisa Pease of New Hampshire, who became an official Playmaker at Jesse’s last-ever training. Lisa is owner, director and teacher at the Reach for the Stars Development Center in Manchester, NH. She has gone above and beyond this year, starting the first New Hampshire Community of Playfulness, planning fundraisers, and constantly setting a joyful example for the children in her care . The whole Playmaker crew congratulates Lisa, as well as all of our Playmakers, for the amazing work they do every day. Can’t wait to do it all even bigger and better at next year’s Playmakers Ball!
This August the Life is good Playmakers Team will journey 1,200 miles to spread the power of joyful play and optimism. We will provide training, support and play equipment to over 300 child care professionals in six cities. These newly certified Playmakers will engage in healing, transformational play with the approximately 6,000 young children in their care, many of whom are struggling to overcome early childhood trauma. The goal is for all involved to lead healthier, more joyful lives. We launch our summer tour from Boston and then road trip our way down the East Coast. Here’s the schedule of training dates and locations:
Boston: July 30 & 31
New York: July 30 & 31
Philadelphia: August 6 & 7
Baltimore/Washington, D.C.: August 13 & 14
Tuscaloosa: August 20 & 21
Hattiesburg: August 27 & 28
Interested in applying to any of the above trainings? Click here to apply now.
A key goal of this special summer tour is to establish sustainable Playmaker communities in four new cities so that frontline child care heroes can have a positive long-term impact on the lives of many of the most vulnerable children in their cities. We also look forward to helping our friends in tornado-devastated Tuscaloosa with a special training session for 60 area Playmakers there who will provide healing care to some 1,200 young children affected by the storm. Our trip concludes in Mississippi where we look forward to adding to the big Playmaker community we established and supported following Hurricane Katrina. It is a truly joyful and dedicated community that has made an amazing difference over the past five years in the lives of thousands of children on the Gulf Coast.
Stay tuned for future blogs that will feature photo and video highlights of this joyful journey to help children overcome life-threatening challenges.
An amazing musical lineup has just been announced for the 2011 Life is good Festival! The two-day, multi-stage, fundraising music festival will be held in Canton, MA on September 24-25. The talented group of performers includes headliners Ray Lamontagne and the Avett Brothers, as well as Michael Franti and Spearhead, The Levon Helm Band, Brandi Carlile, Robert Randolph & The Family Band, Martin Sexton, Raphael Saadiq, Ingrid Michaelson, The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Tristan Prettyman, Dwight and Nicole, Maceo Parker, The Ryan Montbleau Band, Zee Avi, Jenny Dee and The Deelinquents, and The Hold Steady. Performing on the “Good Kids” stage will be Imagination Movers, The Laurie Berkner Band, Keller Williams, and Ben Rudnik and Friends. More than just a good time and great tunes, this is the single biggest fundraiser of the year for the Life is good Playmakers, with a goal of $1 million raised to help children overcome life-threatening challenges. For more information on the festival, check out http://www.lifeisgood.com/festivals/. Stay tuned for ticket info soon!
This year marked the first-ever Jake’s Cup Fundraising Competition among Life is good’s Genuine Neighborhood Shoppes (GNS). GNS are independently-owned retail stores solely dedicated to the Life is good brand. GNS owners are committed not only to providing a complete Life is good shopping experience, but also to spreading optimism every day and helping kids in need. To encourage and acknowledge the contributions these stores make to Life is good’s social mission, the Jake Cup is awarded to the GNS that raises the most funds for the Life is good Kids Foundation. The inaugural Cup went to Andy and Lynn Moceri of Life is good Stone Harbor, a GNS in Stone Harbor, NJ. Thanks to their efforts and the generosity of their family, friends, customers, and colleagues, Life is good Stone Harbor raised $2,486 for the Life is good Kids Foundation! It inspires our work with kids to know that we have great support like this from stores all across the country.
On May 19th Life is good co-founder John Jacobs received the Sam Gerson Humanitarian Award on behalf of Life is good. The award, given out at the annual Charles River “Building A Dream” Gala, recognizes an individual or company that shows true commitment to serving the community. The Life is good Kids Foundation and Life is good Playmakers were specifically noted for our dedication to helping children overcome life-threatening challenges. John happily accepted the award on behalf of the company and discussed Life is good’s ongoing commitment to our most vulnerable children. Take a good look at that picture. You may never see JJ in a suit again!
Mark your calendar for September 24-25 and join us for a big ol’ play date that’s guaranteed to be on your 2011 highlight reel. We’re talking, of course, about the Life is good Festival, which will be returning to Prowse Farm in Canton, MA, just outside of Boston.
The Life is good Festival is by far the most fun – and fundraising – we have all year. As many of you know, every year since 2004, this big outdoor bash of good vibes music, green-grass games, art projects and great food has been held to benefit the Life is good Playmakers (known as Project Joy before 2010). It’s far and away our largest fundraising event of the year, without which we could not carry out our joyful mission to help kids overcome life-threatening challenges.
Good vibes can save lives. That’s no exaggeration. Reaching this year’s goal of $1 million raised at the Life is good Festival will enable us to expand our work to tens of thousands more kids facing life-threatening challenges like violence, illness, and extreme poverty. As in 2010, the festival will create a community of fundraisers. Every festival attendee will have the opportunity to access exclusive hospitality, preferred viewing, artist meet-and-greets and other prizes by achieving fundraising goals or making a donation to help kids in need. The top fundraisers will be called VGP’s – Very Good People – and will have a once-in-a-lifetime concert experience.
Itchin’ to see the music line-up? We’ll be sharing it with you May. Like last year, the fest will feature two days of nationally-known musical talent on three stages. Every age will find top-notch musicians, including parents and their children, who will be treated to several of the nation’s best-known children’s performers.
This fest is a celebration of all we believe in: communities coming together to make friends, play joyfully, dance, create, dream optimistically, and take action on behalf of our nation’s most vulnerable children. We look forward to seeing you there. In the meantime, stay tuned for updates here and on the Life is good Festival web site at www.lifeisgood.com/festivals.
For a taste-test of fest fun, check out highlights from last year:
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:
Our charismatic Chief Playmaker Steve Gross was recently a guest on the popular radio program Dr. Fitness and The Fat Guy. During his interview, Steve joked with the guys, but also spoke about the serious business of helping children overcome life-threatening challenge using the power of playfulness. Click here to listen to the interview!