Press Release


Life is Good Kids Foundation Chief Executive Optimist to Keynote SHAPE America’s National Convention & Expo in Boston

RESTON, VA, December 5, 2016 — Steve Gross, chief executive optimist, Life is Good Kids Foundation, will keynote the Opening General Session at the 132nd National Convention & Expo of SHAPE America – Society of Health and Physical Educators, on Wednesday, March 15, 2017, in Boston. The Life is Good Kids Foundation believes that every child needs a playmaker. By partnering with organizations serving the most vulnerable children, the Foundation helps childcare professionals spread the power of optimism and nurture life-changing relationships that serve as the source of healing and vehicle of learning for all children.

More than 5,000 health and physical education teachers, researchers and other physical activity professionals are expected to attend the convention, which is the largest event of its kind in the country. The convention, which will take place March 14-18, is held in partnership with SHAPE America Eastern District and the Massachusetts Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (MAHPERD). 

In his presentation, Gross will discuss the Foundation's commitment to making life good for kids. "Research shows that even ONE trusted relationship with a skilled, loving adult can help protect children from the catastrophic, long-term effects of childhood trauma," says Gross. "Many children are fortunate to be born surrounded by loving adults. Their parents, extended families and communities have the resources and abilities to support their children's healthy development."

"But, when there's not a skilled, loving adult at home – or tragic circumstances (illness, disaster, poverty) overwhelm a child's system of care – a critical line of defense comes from the men and woman who dedicate their careers to helping support the healthy development of children. These childcare professionals – we call them playmakers – can be found in schools, camps, hospitals, and in a wide variety of social service agencies." 

According to SHAPE America President Jackie Lund of Georgia State University, "Like other playmakers, health and physical education teachers are often called on as a support to many children. Very few teachers have the impact and reach in a school community that they do. We are proud to work with the Life is Good Kids Foundation to make a positive difference in children's lives." 

Gross is a leader in the field of psychological trauma response and a pioneer in utilizing playful engagement and meaningful relationships to overcome the devastating impact of early childhood trauma. His talents have been called upon to respond to some of the greatest catastrophes of our time, including the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina, earthquakes in Haiti and Japan, and the 2012 Newtown school shooting. At the heart of his work, Gross helps others discover the power of optimism so that they can build resilience and bring greater joy, connection, courage and creativity to their lives.

He will be joined at the Opening General Session by Maya Enista Smith, executive director of Lady Gaga's Born This Way Foundation, who will discuss the Foundation's commitment to supporting the wellness of young people, and empowering them to create a kinder and braver world.

For more information about SHAPE America's National Convention & Expo, visit the website and follow #SHAPEBoston.


About SHAPE America
SHAPE America - Society of Health and Physical Educators is committed to ensuring all children have the opportunity to lead healthy, physically active lives. As the nation's largest membership organization of health and physical education professionals, SHAPE America works with its 50 state affiliates and national partners to support initiatives such as the Presidential Youth Fitness Program, Let's Move! Active Schools and the Jump Rope For Heart/Hoops For Heart programs.

Since its founding in 1885, the organization has defined excellence in physical education, and our resources provide the leadership, professional development and advocacy that support health and physical educators at every level - from preschool to university graduate programs. For more information, visit