Grace Play Connect SmartGAME® Whole-Child/Whole Community Learning System. (Patented)

What if all children mastered their own well-being by the age of 10 and spent the rest of their "growing up" years invigorating our world?

Photo of Joan Bucchino
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Founding Story: Share a story about a key experience or spark that helps the network understand why this project got started or a story about how you became inspired about the potential for this project to succeed.

Our story starts with Grace, a special little girl who had a rare disease called Sanfilippo Syndrome/MPS IIIB. Grace was missing a crucial enzyme, this deficiency caused a "storage" condition in in her body... she could not break down excess waste. This build-up caused degenerative effects and sadly, there was no treatment or cure. Grace had cognitive effects from the disease, so she needed a lot of teaching to be able to grasp anything. From watching Grace with her teachers, I created a behavioral program that brings communities together to support the healthy empowerment of young children. Sadly Graced passed away in 2014, but she lives on as amA+zing Grace, inspiring children and adults to take healthful actions which eliminate excess "build up" in their own systems, and in the environment we all share. The spreadable/sharable..(amazing) dust compound that comes from Grace's feet is called "inner glitter." Students are rewarded with this on the palm of their hands when they make smart decisions - it shows them that they shine from the INSIDE when they make healthy choices. We have plenty to share with adults too! We are producers of The NY Health And Sustainability Learning Expo and we just started running the educational family fun pavilion for the Green Festival Expo (NY show). ( I know this project will succeed because it came from nature. We are taking the basics of how human beings learn, and bringing communities together in action

Which categories describe you? (the answer will not be public)

  • White (for example: German, Irish, English, Italian, Polish, French, Caucasian)

Website (in the works.. newer)

Location: Where is your organization headquartered? [State]

  • New York

Location: Where is your organization headquartered? [City]


Location: Where is your project primarily creating impact? [State]

  • New York

Location: Where is your project primarily creating impact? [City]

Huntington, Wyandanch, South Huntington, Broward Cty, FL, Denver, CO,

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Too often, in today's fast paced world, children are missing out on the opportunity to grow up with a healthy balance of physical, mental, and emotional perseverence, strength, and joy. We are seeing the harmful results of our "technology dense," more sedentary lifestyles with obesity rates, type-II diabetes, depression, and so many more preventable illnesses threatening our children's futures. Our education system offers ways to compensate but their job is to educate children, not to solve gigantic problems that interfere with their ability to learn. Educators are overburdened, and this has become a great challenge. This is where we come in.
Our education system, economy, and health care system all suffer when disease prevention isn't systemically addressed, and currently, this isn't being done well enough. We make it easy on parents and educators because we empower children.

We have created and developed a unique, patented educational game that is simple to use and enhances the quality of life for all players.  It offers the opportunity for children to experience the feeling of success through a visualized plan of action.  Simple, daily, repetitive movement on our game board results in a personal, meaningful, goal achievement experience that chldren fully understand... and habitualize.   Our SmartGAME® works like a magic garden - growing children right -  and everyone shares in the watering, insuring successful outcomes.  The results are exponential, as the seeds of positive habit formation multiply.  The effort is small, but the harvest is plentiful, and everyone that participates

- even in the smallest way -  benefits.

Is your model focused on any of the following traditionally underserved communities?

  • Communities of color
  • Children who are differently abled
  • Low-income communities
  • Other

Does your model work within any of the following sectors?

  • Childcare
  • Child and Family Services
  • Community Development and Empowerment
  • Education
  • Mental Health

Year Founded


Project Stage

  • Growth (the pilot has already launched and is starting to expand)

Example: Walk the network through a specific example of what happens when a person or group engages with your solution.

When a student receives a Grace Play Connect SmartGAME® program from their teacher, it starts a daisy chain that benefits the entire community! Children play by completing healthy actions each day. Parents, teachers, and community businesses "lightly" support and reward the students behaviors creating accountability and fun! Games are all about action and accountability and that is what GracePlay does for communities because we bring everyone together in shared action. Children are empowered when they play because they are in charge of their own healthy action, everyone else stands by and watches them as they lead the way! It's a SmartGAME® because everybody wins!

Impact: What was the impact of your work last year? Please also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

Last year we touched about 700 students. Grace passed away in 2014 so we had a slow year. Overall , we have reached over 18,000 students with behavioral games that inspire and measure actions completed. We are currently scaling our program so that it can be delivered to unlimited amounts of students at the same time. An example of the programs effectiveness: in one week, 100,000 servings of fruits and veggies were eaten in one elementary school! We have a board of innovative public health healers and they are all ready to help us to scale this program! Please see attached for list of our high profile advisory board members.

Organization Type

  • hybrid

Annual Budget

  • less than $1k

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is your solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

We also have a program we do where we upgrade buildings to LED technology (please see This money is being used to help support Grace Play Connect. We also have a web app coming that will increase engagement and decrease costs to produce program. Our profit margins are great, and we have already set up networking chains around the country to grow things quickly.

Unique Value Proposition: How else is this problem being addressed? Are there other organizations working in the same field, and how does your project differ from these other approaches?

Our program is patented and is the only one of it's kind. Our program gets definite actions completed, and actual habits are formed as children participate in the daily "prescribed" actions. The rewards keep everyone motivated and all community members get a chance to play!

Reflect on the Field and its Future: Stepping outside of your project, what do you see as the most important or promising shifts that can advance children’s wellbeing?

Growing up isn't the same as it used to be when we all played outside until we were called in to a home cooked dinner where we sat and ate together sharing the day's events. Too often, in today's fast paced world, children are missing out on the opportunity to grow up with a healthy balance of physical, mental, and emotional perseverence, strength, and joy. We are seeing the harmful results of our "technology dense," more sedentary lifestyles. Things have changed, and we need to adapt to keep children healthy. It still takes a community, we just have to use a different process.

Source: How did you hear about the Children’s Wellbeing Challenge? (the answer will not be public)

  • Word of mouth

Referral: If you discovered the Challenge thanks to an organization or person other than Ashoka, who was it? (the answer will not be public)

Mike Gulino

Evaluation results

4 evaluations so far

1. Relevance: Does this project seem to help children (ages 0 to 12 years) develop a strong sense of self, belonging, and purpose?

5 - Yes, this is great! The project lays out a strong, compelling case for how its model nurtures children’s wellbeing. - 25%

4 - It seems like a good fit, and the model talks explicitly about children’s wellbeing. - 0%

3 - I think so. The project seems related to children’s wellbeing, but the logic is vague. - 50%

2 - Not sure. The project doesn’t have much to do with wellbeing, or it doesn’t give enough information. - 25%

1 - Nope, this project definitely doesn’t fit the challenge brief (e.g., It doesn’t help kids younger than 12, isn’t in the U.S., etc.) - 0%

2. Innovation: Does this project tackle children’s wellbeing from a new angle?

5 - I loved this! The project describes a novel model that addresses important cultural or systemic barriers. - 0%

4 - This is pretty cool. The project is addressing an important problem in a new or compelling way. - 25%

3 - I feel like there’s something there, but I want more details about what makes it distinctive. - 0%

2 - It’s a good project, but I’ve seen others like it before. - 25%

1 - It was confusing or hard to tell what it made it different. - 50%

3. Social Impact: What is this project’s potential for creating positive social impact?

5 - Lots of potential. This project is achieving impressive results, and it’s growing quickly. It could absolutely inspire changes in the ways we approach caring for kids nationally, across sectors (e.g. childcare, healthcare, education). - 0%

4 - Pretty good potential. This project demonstrates significant positive impact so far, and it could scale regionally or nationally one day and fundamentally change how a system operates (e.g. childcare, healthcare, education). - 0%

3 - Budding potential. This project is creating local impact, but it would take a few adjustments before it could scale. - 25%

2 - Some potential. This project demonstrates some initial positive impact, but it would require major changes before it could scale. - 50%

1 - Limited potential. This project has great intentions, but it looks like it does not include key drivers of a shift towards children’s wellbeing. - 25%

4. Overall, how do you feel about this idea?

5 - This idea rocked my world. It’s awesome! - 0%

4 - This idea seems really exciting. With a little more polishing, it’d be among my favorites. - 25%

3 - I think the idea is great, but it needs some work before it moves onto the next round. - 0%

2 - I liked it fine but preferred others. - 25%

1 - It didn’t make my heart beat faster. Needs significant revisions. - 50%

5. Offer some feedback. Where should this participant spend some time revising?

DEFINING THE PROBLEM. Make sure to articulate the root causes or main barriers of the social issue your project addresses. (Founding Story, Problem, Solution). - 100%

CLARITY OF MODEL. Make sure to mention (a.) the beneficiary, b) the main activities, and c) how those activities drive social impact. Keep it streamlined! - 100%

MARKETPLACE. Make sure to research other players in this space and articulate how this project is different. I didn’t get a complete sense of how this project compares to others. - 50%

IMPACT POTENTIAL. Make sure to use specific numbers to describe what your project has achieved so far! And consider how you might scale the model or its insights, through partnerships, trainings, or franchising. - 100%

WRITING STYLE. Try to stay concise and make it vivid. Avoid jargon. - 50%

Nothing stands out! I thought it was great. - 0%

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1 comment

Join the conversation:

Photo of Gina

Grace Play Connect SmartGAME® Whole-Child/Whole Community Learning System. (Patented) Joan, your project touched my heart as I am sure it will most certainly touch the hearts of the many children who have the opportunity to use this game and learn more about themselves. We like the social impact of the game if it has children thinking outside of their "world" on how to help others, in addition to themselves. I would like to see if the game offers ideas on how the children can get involved in community service at a young age. Check out our entry and let us know your thoughts too. Best of luck to you and thank you for turning a tragedy into triumph for so many young ones!