Power of Play


Katie Smith Milway & The Power of Play

Katie Smith Milway, a Partner at Bridgespan and head of the firm's Knowledge Unit, joined the Boston Scores Board in September 2016 as part of the union between Boston Scores and the One Hen social entrepreneurship program based on Katie's book, One Hen: How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference. In April of 2017, Katie launched another book, The Banana-Leaf Ball: How Play Can Change the World. The latest in her series of CitizenKid (Kids Can Press) books, The Banana Leaf Ball speaks to the power of soccer to create a sense of belonging for at-risk youth and to help them to find common ground.

"Ball by ball, practice by practice, children who were once afraid of each other laugh together. There are still problems in the camp, but no one feels so alone anymore."

The "power of play" is a powerful concept underlying one of the challenges of urban youth in America that programs like Boston Scores seek to address:


"The problem of kids fearing each other also happens outside of refugee camps. In fact, in schools around the world even recess can feel dangerous or unwelcoming, particularly to kids who are being bullied or left out. But with some coaching, playgrounds can be wonderful places to just play. And through playing, kids learn how to make friends, lead others and build trust. Good sport can lead to good thinking, good health and good friendships. Playgrounds everywhere need their own version of a 'banana-leaf ball.' "

Katie's book is based on the true story of a child refugee in Tanzania, a bully who targets him, and how becoming teammates transforms both their lives. The book also serves as a resource for after-school and recess programs across the country, providing examples of games that help kids to connect and develop positive relationships.

For example, her book highlights one of the go-to games used by the America SCORES Network:

"Traffic Jam:

• Two teams of 6-10 players form a circle by holding hands and spreading out, each standing next to a player from the opposite team. At a coach’s command, all start jogging in a circle.

• When the coach yells, “Traffic jam,” all players run across the circle to the opposite side and link hands with opposite team members in a new circle. The coach times how fast they can all work together to build the new circle.

• Repeat, adding new commands for travel, such as, “Jumping jacks!”, “Hop on one foot!”, “Hands up high,” etc."

Banana Leaf Ball also includes examples of games from Right to Play, Playworks, Gonzo Soccer, and Grassroot Soccer.

At Boston Scores, Katie continues to support the One Hen social entrepreneurship program that teaches students basic financial literacy and micro-finance terminology, empowers them to build business based on real micro-finance loans and inspires them to give back the profits from their businesses to needs that they identify in their communities or around the world.

Boston Scores is an independent 501(c)3 non-profit organization and an affiliate of America SCORES.