My personal month of play

June 29, 2017 | GET MORE : Social Responsibility

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U.S. Bank's chief social responsibility officer reflects on how neighborhood games she played as a kid continue to shape her life today.

Playing Ghosts in the Graveyard at the neighborhood playground with my friends is one of my best memories of growing up in Detroit, and it gave me a sense of community that laid the foundation for my career in corporate social responsibility.

The memories stirred two years ago when building U.S. Bank's Community Possible platform, which focuses our community investments and volunteer time in economic development by supporting efforts to create stable jobs, better homes and vibrant communities. Community Possible has three pillars: Work, Home and Play. We launched it last summer with a 25-state, 13,000 mile relay of volunteer activities representing each pillar. This summer, we're prioritizing the Play pillar by distributing $6.6 million from the U.S. Bank Foundation to local nonprofits focused on play and through a month-long blitz to inspire our 73,000 employees to make play possible through actions big and small in local communities across the country. Our employees will be making personal play commitments involving their family, friends and local communities. They will be surprising and delighting local communities by making play possible in wonderfully creative ways. And they will be building playgrounds and improving play spaces across the country. It's our U.S. Bank Community Possible Month of Play.

Why play?

At U.S. Bank, we believe play matters. It is critical to learning, development and health. And play spaces can be a powerful way to weave together a community's diverse cultures. We recently completed a survey in partnership with Playworks to check in on Americans' relationship with play. What we found is that Americans value play, but financial stress continues to limit play time. According to the survey, 98 percent of people said they think play is valuable, 86 percent believe it can relieve stress and yet 38 percent say financial stress prevents them from playing as often as they'd like. 

We wanted to do something about it, so we launched the Community Possible Month of Play to expand access and remove barriers. 

As we've been preparing to launch the Month of Play, I sat down with my husband to discuss our personal commitment. We decided to say yes any time our kids ask us to play. We did not tell the kids about our pledge – we are simply saying yes. The results have been amazing…less Netflix and social media and more soccer games in the backyard, trips to the playground and card games every night. We are putting our phones down and connecting and it feels great. My 17-year-old daughter and 15-year-old son (pictured with me above) have also agreed to help me organize neighborhood game nights once a week during the month of play, from hoops on the driveway to cards or crafts at the kitchen table to freeze tag in the park.

I want play to be the same bridge across cultural divides that it was for me as a kid. For our family, this month will be all about connecting with people and having fun with a little friendly competition mixed in.

Join me, and U.S. Bank, in making play possible this summer.

Reba Dominski is chief social responsibility officer at U.S. Bank. Follow along with the U.S. Bank Community Possible Month of Play on social media with #CommunityPossible.