Imagine being able to help children in disenfranchised communities across the globe do their homework, pique scientific interest and play all at the same time. Imagination is now becoming a reality. Meet Jessica Mathews (@Jess_O_Matt), CEO and founder of Uncharted Play, a social enterprise that is using the activity of play and her soccer ball the “Soccket” to change how we think about integrating sport and science. The Soccket generates electricity through play which can power up an attachable reading lamp, cellphone, or iPod. Half an hour of play and you have generated enough electricity to produce three hours of light.
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The Harvard alum recently teamed up with Toyota to introduce Uncharted Play’s Think Out of Bounds curriculum on soccer’s biggest stage, the World Cup. With Soccket at the centerpiece of the curriculum taught to local school children in Brazil, Matthews and Uncharted Play have scored a huge goal on a international stage.
BlackEnterprise.com recently had the opportunity to speak with Matthews to discuss social enterprise, the importance of STEM, and key advice for young adults to make a impact on their local communities and the world.
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BlackEnterprise.com: Tell us about your partnership with Toyota.
Uncharted Boundaries is a partnership between Uncharted Play and Toyota, where we actually work to bring our Think Out of Bounds curriculum to the children living in disenfranchised communities. Most recently we were able to impact thousands of children between the ages of 7 and 13 in Brazil during the World Cup. Using our products (the Soccket and the Pulse) we were able to bring in play products that are already engulfed in what is going on with world cup as a discussion starter to address issues within communities.
How important is STEM in the development of children?
STEM education is very important because we do live in a technologically controlled world where it is important to understand how it (technology) can be used to create the future we want. This is great, but it goes beyond STEM. I believe it has more to do with the mindset and creative confidence that we try to push forward with our Think Out of Bounds curriculum. It goes beyond technology and understanding how the ball works. It is more about understanding what is stopping these excited and very intelligent kids from inventing the solutions that they need to overcome the issues they are facing. This includes breaking down barriers and building these kids back up, so they not only have the tools with a STEM background but also the will, motivation and belief that they can make a difference. This is the missing factor within many organizations. It’s not just about knowing, it’s about seeing and creating inventions as easy and simple as play.
Why does sports and technology work?
The easiest way to get anyone to change is to make it seem like they are not changing at all. Play is the oldest thing in the world. Sport and play is what people did and do. When you start with play everything is fun, exciting and a new opportunity cloaked in the space of play. Sometimes we are dealing with very serious issues but when you start from the positive things become much more appealing. Taking something that is so naturally and engrained in our psyche and use that as a platform to make technology more tangible just works.
What’s next for UP?
This fall we will be releasing or energy producing jump rope the “Pulse.” By purchasing this product you will give one child access to our energy generating products and social invention curriculum. In addition, we are working on some major partnerships to have a bigger impact on the continent of Africa and reach hundreds of thousands of children.
What’s your advice for others who seek to find success in social entrepreneurship?
The key thing to keep in mind is that you do not have to everything planned out in the beginning. Do not be afraid to make mistakes and as long as you are moving forward you will be getting somewhere. Take one small step, and do not be hesitant because you do not have things perfectly mapped out. Sooner or later someone will take notice, and help you to speed up and get even farther.
Daron Pressley (@daronpressley) is an entrepreneur and former Fortune 500 sales and marketing executive who has been featured on outlets including Fox45 News, Black Enterprise magazine, and The Washington Post. Knowledgeable in marketing and branding, Pressley works with professional athletes, organizations, and individuals to develop strategies to create, build, and grow brands. As a speaker, Pressley has reached more than 20,000 students, and provides dynamic insights on leadership and branding via his website: DaronPressley.com.