Playmaker Darren

Family & Children’s Aid (FCA) offers high quality, innovative mental health care for some of the most vulnerable children and families in Connecticut. They operate under the belief that all children deserve outstanding care, and they’re aligned with The Life is Good Kids Foundation (LIGKF) in the belief that outstanding care can only be delivered by outstanding care givers.

Recognizing the critical importance of self-care, and cultivating a culture of optimism, joy, and engagement, FCA began a partnership with The LIGKF in 2009.

Through the partnership, the FCA team has gained access to LIGKF workshops, retreats, and resources to help them build a stronger, more connected, and powerful team of Playmakers – childcare professionals who make lasting, positives differences at a critical time in a child’s development.

Darren Ellison, a clinician at FCA is certainly one of those exceptional Playmakers. At FCA Darren runs play groups and works one-on-one with children who come to FCA for treatment following some of life’s most unfair challenges.

“I’ve always felt I wanted to have a job that was important and meaningful to others. I wanted to be doing something helping others and making a difference in people’s lives. When I attended my first Playmaker Discovery Workshop eight years ago, it really spoke to me because it felt like a part of who I am already.”

Soon after the Playmaker Discovery, Darren realized that the Playmaker philosophy, games, and practices were widely implemented across the agency, but were missing from outpatient groups where children, their parents, and their care-takers could benefit from discovering how to authentically play, together.

So, Darren changed that. He started running outpatient Playmaker Groups and growing the good far beyond his place of employment.

In addition to running Playmaker Groups for both in and out patients at FCA, he also takes his Playmaker skills on the road by volunteering to lead inclusive play activities at community events and fairs.

Darren is a living testament to one of the most treasured Playmaker beliefs: that ALL children deserve to grow up feeling safe, loved, and joyful.

According the Darren:

“Being a Playmaker means building strong, healthy relationships through which children can grow and heal. I was a kid who didn’t know how to connect and engage and needed a Playmaker. Now, I try to put myself into the shoes of the kids I work with and ask myself, how I can help them in the ways I needed help.”

Darren is truly a hero of optimism in the lives of the children he works with.

As one colleague put it: “Darren helps our kids see the light within them, focus on that light and grow the goodness that each one of them has.”

What could be more important than that?