In PFO, we believe that the two most important questions we can ask in our lifetime are “Who Am I?” and “How will I give of that?”

When we do, we transform the world.

Playing for Others (PFO) began in 2006 as a volunteer project. Today the organization serves 75 teens and 36 children with disabilities and their siblings in total, for a 10-month program. PFO provides a space for teens to explore and answer the questions, “Who Am I?” and “How will I give of that?” through programming in Personal Development, Service, and the Arts.

WHY of PFO

“Who Am I?”
“How will I give of that?”

“Who Am I?” is the critical question teens are asking themselves during the adolescent developmental stage and beyond. Up until now, they have defined who they are from their parents. And while this is still their greatest influence, they are now exploring other avenues from which to answer this question. PFO empowers teens with the understanding that “who we are” is “whoever we say we are”. We get to define and claim that for ourselves. We do not tell teens who they should be, how they should act, what they should believe, instead we provide a rich variety of experiences in which they explore, discover, and step into who they are, all while being surrounded by supportive, loving role models in a safe, fun, positive, creative, amazing environment.

“How will I give of that?” moves teens from focusing solely on themselves, and instead suggests an “inside out” model. When we decide and fully step into who we are, we naturally give of that to those around us. When we become leaders of our own lives first, we naturally become strong leaders to others. The more we love ourselves, the more we increase our capacity to love others. The desire to serve and give isn’t something we feel like we “have” to do, but something we want to do because it is woven into the very fabric of who we are.

HOW of PFO

“Programming in Personal Development, Service, and the Arts.”

In Personal Development, teens focus on “Who Am I?”

They recognize who they are being in each moment, increase their self-awareness, and learn to shift their perspective.

Through Service, teens focus on “How will I give of that?”

They become young philanthropists – giving of their time, talent, and treasure.

In the Arts, they experience self-expression, embracing creativity, and using that passion to serve.

Through the core values – Attitude of Gratitude, Acceptance, Accountability, and Action – teens learn to become effective leaders of self and others.

These core operating values influence the culture and public image of PFO as a transformational program for teenagers.

Attitude of Gratitude – PFO demonstrates the importance of practicing a constant “attitude of gratitude”. Research shows that people who are grateful; physically have stronger immune systems, exercise more, and take better care of their health, psychologically have higher levels of positive emotions, are more alert and alive, and experience more joy, pleasure, optimism and happiness.

And most directly related to PFO, socially people who are grateful are more helpful, generous, compassionate, forgiving, outgoing, and feel less lonely and isolated.

We seek to cultivate this “attitude of gratitude” in all of our constituents and as an example to the community at large.

Acceptance – PFO honors each and every person as an individual that is deserving of love and belonging. Although we may look, think, or act differently, at the core we are all the same. Developmentally teens are seeking acceptance and inclusion. PFO provides a positive peer culture in which all teens are embraced. We promote acceptance of the whole person, their thoughts, ideas, values, culture, and differences.

Accountability – PFO empowers teens, staff members and Board to be accountable for what they do, and for who they say they are. We seek to instill integrity in our administrative, service, and outreach activities while consistently taking accountability for up-leveling the program impact and experience for all involved both directly and indirectly.

Action – PFO understands that in order to create meaningful and lasting change, we must take inspired, deliberate, focused and consistent action. Action is what takes us from where we are, to where we want to be. Regular evaluation of our impact leads us to take immediate steps to deepen and enhance our impact and it is through action that we accomplish our goals.

WHAT of PFO

“Cultivating the next generation of innovative leaders, philanthropists and compassionate human beings.”

Innovative leaders:

  • Leadership training is woven into everything we do. The primary focus is on “being” a leader, whether in a titled position or not. How we “be” influences, inspires, and guides others more than what we tell them to do. Leadership training is about first focusing on what behavior we are role modeling, who are we “being” in each moment, and answering the first question of PFO, “Who Am I?”
  • As teens develop their self-confidence and self-awareness, we concurrently provide them with a variety of opportunities to answer the questions, “How will I give of that?”. Opportunities include: serving in a named leadership position, contributing to their committee work, spending time with a child with a disability or their sibling through our Buddy program, exploring/discovering/sharing their talents in the Arts through Arts Experiences and a variety of other innovative projects and events.
  • “Becoming the leaders they learn from” is central to the success of teens in PFO.

Philanthropists:

  • Teens experience the power of giving of their time, talent and treasure. We provide unique opportunities for them both externally and internally. External opportunities include bringing the story of other non-profits to life through spoken word, photography, dance, music and visual art. Internal opportunities include volunteering in the office and selling merchandise to support the continuation of the program.
  • Teens also learn the business side of running a non-profit. This includes fundraising, messaging, event planning and promotion, budgeting, etc. This allows teens to truly understand the demands on a non-profit and allows them to be accountable for their part in the process.
  • Because fundraising is a big part of running a non-profit, teens are also deeply engaged in the necessary fundraising for PFO. They learn why people choose to be active philanthropists, what inspires them to give of their time, talent, or treasure. They learn how to tell their own story to motivate, inspire, and offer an opportunity for people to give of their time, talent, and treasure to PFO.

Compassionate human beings:

  • Primarily through the Buddy program, teens learn that people are people are people and everyone is worthy and deserving of love and acceptance whether you are a child with a disability, a child who has a sibling with a disability or a fellow teen.
  • “Seeking first to understand”, “Meeting them where they are”, and generating compassion for all people is strongly developed in our teens and impacts them for the rest of their lives.

PFO beliefs

  • Having an attitude of gratitude impacts our physical, emotional and social well-being
  • Accountability includes what we do and who we say we are
  • Who we are “being” in every moment is just as important as what we are “doing”
  • Anything is possible regardless of condition or circumstance
  • When we become aware of our thoughts, we have the power to accept or reject them, ultimately shaping our lives
  • Strong leaders are developed when they become leaders of their own lives first
  • Leadership training includes learning how to communicate effectively with a variety of people, overcoming fear of public speaking, articulating your message, managing individual and groups of people, assessing and identifying needs, collaborating, developing concepts and ideas, creating a cohesive culture, inspiring others, and role modeling successful behavior
  • People with disabilities are differently abled
  • Engaging in philanthropy instills the life-long opportunity to practice “giving while living”
  • The power of one: one person has the power to create a lasting ripple effect
  • Each and every person is deserving of love and belonging
  • The more we love ourselves, the more we love others
  • With compassion and courage, we enhance our connection with others
  • Strong relationships begin with equality: respecting the inherent dignity and worth of every individual
  • Authenticity and vulnerability are strengths
  • The arts have the power to restore, heal, and connect our community
  • Every individual has a unique gift and passion to give to the world
  • By experiencing the arts, we explore and open new doors to “who we are” and “how we will give of that”
  • We can use the arts in innovative ways to change the world
  • We become better people when we engage with people who are different than we are and we embrace and celebrate Diversity
  • We become the leaders we learn from
  • Personal Development and Leadership training is woven throughout everything we do