The Creative Play Project, spearheaded by Don Dehm of Pulp Gamer Media, distributes free board games to youth groups. As Don explains,

Kids are our future, and they need a way to grow outside of the instructional environment. Games allow kids to exercise their brains, reinforce what they have learned in school, and pick up skills that don’t fit neatly in that environment. It’s not like they take classes on strategic planning and risk management.

There are other organizations that provide games to hospitals, schools, and even retirement homes. What sets Creative Play Project apart, though, is this focus on using games to promote opportunities for learning and social development outside of school.

As an industry, we have been working for years to reach teachers. Our project targets an entirely different environment—one that was designed as a blend of both recreation and development. Youth centers are a perfect place for games.

The games selected were intentionally not labeled as educational. We emphasize stealth education. Have fun first

The Creative Play Project provides packages of 10-12 games, along with training materials that include video instructions on how to play and teach the games, suggestions for how to realize the educational potential of each game, and ideas for making game programs even more exciting for kids.

The program that will accompany these games will include a reward system for engaging in gaming activities from play and teaching the games to your peers, to following up and learning something more about themes used in the games. In a way, it’s a meta-game, structured like many achievement systems.

If you run a youth group that would like to take advantage of this opportunity, visit the Creative Play Project website for a simple application form [PDF].

And if you’d like to support the efforts of the Creative Play Project, consider finding a local game store this Saturday, April 28th, for Creative Play Day, a special program of tournaments, auctions, and casual gaming. Participating retailers have committed to donating a portion of their sales that day to this worthy cause.