Critical training to better protect, support, and heal vulnerable children


series: CAREGIVER 101 by Steve Gross


So for all my playmakers out there, a core belief is that every child needs at least one, but hopefully more things that we call an Oplasis. An Oplasis is a made up word. No, you probably have never heard it before because we made it up and we took two words and we mushed them together.

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The two words were Oasis and play. Now, oasis is simply a safe respite from what is difficult. We all need a safe place. It has water in the midst of a desert. It is a place you can retreat to where you feel safe, where you feel powerful. In addition, the word play is about children freely and joyfully engaging, connecting and exploring with the world. Plays is not just about what activities you do. It's the spirit, intentionality with which you do everything that you do.

So any activity that a child engages in with a sense of joy, connection, empowerment, engagement, that's play. If it's reading, then you're playing reading. If it's math, you're playing math and if it's football or soccer, you're playing football or soccer. Not about what you do. It's how and why you do the things that you do.

When you take those two words and put them together and Oplasis is a safe, loving, joyful, and engaging environment. You can do almost anything in Oplasis, provided it's safe. There's joy, there's connection, and there's engagement. And so that is the term Oplasis. And as a play maker, part of our job is looking and saying, what can we do to create a space which Children feel safe, or they feel connected and part of something, where they feel hopeful and joyful and there're engaging things that capture their attention, their imagination and their energy.


Steve Gross

Steve Gross, M.S.W., is the founder and chief playmaker of the Life is Good Kids Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit whose mission is to spread the power of optimism to help kids heal. The foundation partners with leading childcare organizations to strengthen theircapacity to build healing,...

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life-changing relationships with the children in their care.

Steve’s teachings have been utilized across the country and throughout the world in response to the social and emotional needs of communities deeply impacted by poverty, violence and illness. Steve helps others discover their own sense of optimism so that they can inspire the people around them to focus on the good and overcome life’s most difficult challenges.


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