What should young people do with their lives today? Many things, obviously. But the most daring thing is to create stable communities in which the terrible disease of loneliness can be cured.” – Kurt Vonnegut, Palm Sunday: An Autobiographical Collage

The Let’s Play Program engages at-risk students in games-based Social and Emotional Learning, using a variety of unique video games.

Let’s Plays are videos of people playing video games online, most often viewed on Youtube or Twitch TV. Millions of people watch Let’s Play videos every day. The program has been inspired by the communities that have built up around these videos and around video games in general.

At-risk students can become defined by their problems and crises, becoming increasingly isolated from others, both in school and community life. The more complex their problems, the more isolated they often become. Interactions with teachers, administrators, counselors, parents, and peers can be affected by their circumstances. Over time, their problems can become their identity and a part of the structure of their everyday life.

There are times (the [20th] century has provided a more than ample supply) when some form of escape is essential, and any art form that supplies it is not to be despised.” – Arthur C. Clarke

There are a lot of programs to help these students. Most of them rightly focus on academic issues, physical needs, mental health and wellness, counseling, and mentoring. Our program is designed to come alongside other programs, to enrich existing Social and Emotional Learning Curriculum, adding an experience that will catalyze relationships and community for our students over time, the way games do in real life. How do we know games can achieve these things? Here’s an introduction to some of the latest research on the positive impact of games from a mental health organization called Check Point:

There is an incredible variety of games produced by the industry every day. That variety and the growing artistic achievements of the industry mean that we have an opportunity to do more with this format than just create a sort of video game club or gaming only for recreation.

Though…let’s be honest, having fun is part of the point. Video Games are really, really fun!