Playing to Live is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization that seeks to meet the psychosocial and mental health needs of children and families in low-resource, high trauma communities world wide. We do this through program development, expert mental health consultancy, research & assessments, and advocacy & information sharing of best practices.
We believe that the best way to help children is to work collaboratively with community organizations and empower local community leaders and health care providers by teaching them the latest techniques in art therapy, play therapy, and child life practices. By employing these community leaders as program facilitators children have access to culturally relevant and sensitive art and play therapy in their native languages. Playing to Live! programming also strengthens the local economy by sourcing all our program supplies locally. The techniques we use and teach have been adapted for ethical use by a non clinician. We do not train people to become therapists, but we teach and support non clinicians to use skills through art expression that help children grow and heal, cope with stressors, and develop healthy relationships.
Playing to Live's team has a vast amount of experience working in different cultures and contexts. As a team we have experience working in in refugee situations, epidemics, post war communities, disabilities, and high need communities in America, East, West, & South Africa, Middle East, and Eastern Europe. Individually our work spans a wide range of experiences, including active duty military, hospital and medical emergencies, at-risk child and adolescents, adults, substance abuse, eating disorders, disabilities, natural disasters, trauma, sexual and gender based violence, and homelessness.
Established in October 2014, Playing to Live is an American based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Playing to Live was developed during the Ebola epidemic in West Africa; the primary goal during that time was to provide psychological support services to children most effected by the epidemic. Very quickly we saw the potential for growth opportunities of this culturally relative and adaptive program, built a training program that could be adapted globally to address trauma in low resource settings beyond the Ebola epidemic, and assisted our local Liberian partner with a UNICEF funded program that reached over 850 children and hired 40 female survivors.
From 2014-2016, Playing to Live focused on the Liberian project supporting the development of the psychosocial trainings for community members, implementing the pilot programs, and implementing the full-scale UNICEF funded program. In 2016, Playing to Live programming expanded into South Africa where training and a pilot program were completed. In 2017, following an invitation to assist in the South Sudanese refugee crisis, Playing to Live received a Humanitarian Innovation Fund grant and built a collaborative needs and resource assessment that highlighted the dire mental health needs of adolescent and child refugees residing in Uganda. In 2018, Playing to Live is sought to continue the work in Uganda while also looking and responding to opportunities for additional growth opportunities with national and global organizations. During 2018, the Playing to Live team continued to build a foundation for partnering and collaborating with organizations globally and nationally. The first partnership in the U.S was established, and we have continued to build partnership potential across the United States South East. Playing to Live is committed to filling in the severe gap of mental health support in low resource communities.