When we think of play in the context of school, it is typically in relation to recess or just a way to “get the wiggles out”…but the research has been in for some time that it carries far more weight than that. One longitudinal study showed that the early integration of play and education in children’s lives resulted in multiple areas of impact: 44% increases in high school completion, 17% increase in bachelor degree completion, and 42% increase in annual earnings! But how can play create such astonishing numbers? The research indicated that the strongest indicators of long-term success were skills that could not be taught in the classroom, but were best learned through play like social skills, problem-solving, self-control, and creative thinking. These soft skills, coupled with education, produce well-rounded and productive members of the community. In addition, they foster emotional, sociological, and physical health that gets passed on to the next generation. In Santiago, Ciudad Santa Maria is a foundation run school that seeks to lift children out of poverty through the power of education. They offer daycare to children as young as five days old and schooling all the way through twelfth grade (equivalent to a US education). The top graduates are awarded scholarships for college and vocational endeavors. In partnership with First American Corporation, Synergies Foundation has been seeking to reshape the lives of children from underserved communities with all of the tools available to them. With a little support from Kids Around the World…that toolbox just got a whole lot bigger!