01/24/2012 06:02 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Resolve to Give Play Everyday

It's not that I have anything against Christmas or New Years, or any other holiday for that matter. But, when it comes to thinking of others and doing things for others, I am not ruled or influenced by a calendar. I am prone to action when the spirit moves me, not when the calendar notes I should. In my mind, opportunities for service to others are almost endless and should be part of our daily lives. It's abundantly clear that we are not going to run out of opportunities to give any time soon; however, if we simply give or make a resolution to act in a certain way only when the calendar dictates, then we are acting for the wrong reason.

It Takes Balls to Give -- and the One World Futbol has the Balls
Photo credit: Christine Mytko, 2011.

For the last year, I have carried around with me a One World Futbol -- it's been punctured hundreds of times and bounces just fine. It's been kicked into barbed wire, and it still plays as if it were new. I even took a knife and cut it open. And it plays as well today as on day one. Some people have said that it's not quite as good as a Nike or Adidas ball, but that's because they excel at designing and making the best competition equipment for use on grass and turf and for competition on groomed pitches and in the finest stadiums. This is not our focus here at One World Futbol Project. We've resolved every day to give children living in harsh environments under challenging circumstances the opportunity to play and experience all the beauty and magic and healing that comes with it, all the joy and fun that we were created to experience. Our ball matches the endurance of the spirit of the children who play with it -- no matter where they are. To me, it's one of the greatest free rides in the universe to actually fulfill our genetic and evolutionary potential through play.

Unfortunately, play is a great gift that is often overlooked. I've seen at least 24 definitions of play -- the majority of which have a negative connotation. In our culture, in particular, many consider play a waste of time or treat it as a distraction. It's frequently dismissed, under-rated, cut from schools and programs, and rejected. However, the research is in -- if we don't play, we don't adapt or evolve. It's crucial to our vitality and one of the important types of therapies available today. Play is so powerful, the United Nations has mandated that play be organized even before schools especially in war zones and refugee camps.

We humans -- in particular grownups -- over think everything. I know I am guilty of this myself. We think because we can think, we should. But sometimes, it's best to just follow our instincts, follow our gut, and act when the spirits moves us -- not our appointment books, planners or calendars.

I believe that the single greatest natural resource we have is the innocence of a child's spirit. Play is what children need to do -- and keeping the spirit of play alive for children no matter where they are, no matter what their circumstances, is vital. I also know that when you are focusing on resolving a real human need such as keeping the spirit of play alive, you cannot help but do good.

Photo credit: Josh Roe, Generation Alive/Jeremy Affeldt Foundation, 2012.
Working through local youth, Generation Alive is delivering the One World Futbol to children in developing countries including Soddo, Ethiopia.

I feel very fortunate in this regard. I never set out to design an ultra-durable ball and then figure out its purpose. I didn't set out to try to improve the environment by keeping thousands balls out of trash heaps, and I didn't set out to save money -- I set out to help children be children no matter where they live and no matter how old we are simply by helping them play. Honestly, I am just a big kid who loves to play -- you can ask my wife. I was focused on simply fulfilling that one simple goal of keeping the spirit of children alive through play and that was more important than anything else. And, at the end of the day, I realized while I cannot change the world -- this ball may be able to help change the life of a child who can change the world.

Join me today and every day in a new resolution to make giving part of your daily existence -- not just at the start of a new year.