“Play is the expression of our creativity, & creativity, I believe, is at the very root of our ability to learn, to cope & to become whatever we may be.” – Fred Rogers

So play can change the world?
It can definitely change us. Science backs it up.

Ball Project didn’t originate with a research paper or lab study. & it wasn’t inspired by the grand scale of an Olympic or World Cup competition. It came from more humble origins – an observation that the simple act of two or three kids sharing a ball means something; that the act of play is more than fun & leisure & can be essential in making us whole as humans.

Ball Project in Africa

We need certain things to survive: food, water, shelter. What do we, as the human race, need to thrive? Love? Love of the game? Love for each other through the game? That’s the idea – that play puts us in a different frame of mind, makes us more compassionate and that when children everywhere can play, it improves the lot of us all.

It’s worth noting that science backs the idea that play improves lives in meaningful ways. Stuart Brown, founder of the National Institute of Play, has intensively studied the “Play Histories” of over six thousand people. His conclusions – that play can improve everything – from personal well being, to relationships, to learning how to be creative.
In Brown’s TED talk, he says, “Play leads to brain plasticity, adaptability, & creativity…nothing fires the brain like play.” The growing body of literature on the topic of play details the following benefits:

• Enhanced memory & focus
• Improved language learning skills
• Creative problem solving
• Improved mathematics skills
• Increased ability to self-regulate, an essential component of motivation & goal achievement.

• Cooperation
• Team work
• Conflict resolution
• Leadership skill development
• Control of impulses & aggressive behavior

Games are, per Brown’s research, more than fun. Play in childhood makes for happy, smart adults – & keeping it up can make us smarter at any age. “Play is not rehearsal,” he states. It’s essential to healthy life.

That’s the inspiration behind Ball Project – give a coach or community leader a ball, create play for children & adults, instill something essential & make lives better simply by working to help children play.

Sand soccer, Nigeria 12.2014