Our Journey

Our History

Built through love, optimism, experience, and expertise, Chief Playmaker Steve Gross, MSW, and a trusted team of researchers and colleagues, have spent 30+ years developing the Life is Good Playmaker program. Today, more than 16,000 Playmakers are creating a world where life is good for all kids.


1989: It Starts

Steve Gross founded Project Joy — a nonprofit organization that uses the power of joyful play to heal and strengthen homeless and impoverished children throughout Greater Boston.

2001: Elâzığ, Turkey

Recognized as a powerful treatment for early childhood trauma, Project Joy is contracted by the Center for Trauma Psychology to help design a therapeutic, play-based intervention to support the recovery of thousands of children traumatized by a massive earthquake in Elâzığ, Turkey. This project was coordinated by the Turkish Ministry of Education.

2005: Caring for the Caregiver

In an effort to help even more children, Steve Gross flips Project Joy’s model from working directly with children to training childcare professionals in "The Project Joy Approach." The new direction helps communities heal from within and gives birth to a whole new generation of Project Joy Playmakers.

2010: Help after Hurricane Katrina

Following Hurricane Katrina, Mississippi State University hires Project Joy to train to hundreds of early childhood educators to rebuild a sense of safety, joy, and community for thousands of the Gulf Coast's most impacted children.

2011: Life is Good

Recognizing Project Joy’s ability to spread the power of optimism to children in times of great adversity, Life is Good invites Project Joy to be the sole social mission of the brand. Project Joy officially becomes The Life is Good Playmakers.

2011: Gerye Jwa is Born

In the aftermath of the 2010 Haiti earthquake, the Life is Good Playmakers partners with Haitian community leaders to develop a Playmaker training of trainers program in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. This initiative enables a small group of Haitian Playmakers (known in the community as Gerye Jwa - Haitian Creole for Joy Warriors) to train over 2,000 local childcare professionals in the Playmaker Program.

2013: A New Approach

The Playmaker model evolves to add training for entire social service organizations in the fields of education, health, and enrichment. These organizational partnerships help create sustainable, systemic improvements to the quality of care that these organizations are able to deliver to the children and families they serve.

2018: Healing through Partnerships

Life is Good Playmakers partners with some of the most influential social service organizations in the country to widen the scope and impact of their work.  National Head Start, the YMCA, the Boys & Girls Club of Boston, and major children’s hospitals across the country use the Playmaker Approach to create optimal learning and healing environments for children.

2018: Going Digital

Platform development begins for a new online learning experience that allows us to scale up and we pilot our first online course, Compassion is a Superpower.

2022: Guardians of Childhood (Ukraine)

We join forces with RIDNI, a Ukrainian charitable fund, to scale up Guardians of Childhood, a psychosocial recovery initiative that trains adult caregivers to protect children’s social-emotional wellbeing.

2022: The Playmaker Project

Adopting a name that more accurately captures our mission to teach and support a network of caregivers, and advance this movement, we officially become the Life is Good Playmaker Project. 

Our Founder

Founder and Chief Playmaker Steve Gross is fueled by the powerful belief that every child deserves to have a happy childhood. 

Meet Steve

Our Team

We're a dedicated band of optimists, with shared and unique superpowers, who believe in the power of play. 

Meet our Team

Our Stories

Playmakers across the world have an everyday impact on the lives of vulnerable children. Learn about these difference makers.

News & Impact

Contact Us

Questions? Comments? Please reach out, we're here to help.

Get in touch

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