Now that you've probably got a handle on Pokémon Go as good, geeky fun, it's time to look beyond its initial awesomeness and put it to deeper work for yourself and those around you. If you're not sure where to get started, use these suggestions as  inspiration.

1. Set up a Pokémon Go walk (or sponsor one). 

Organize a Pokémon Go walk for a cause of your choice, such as cancer research, rehabilitation support, or free career training. Have people donate a flat amount when they sign up for the walk, or set up the event so that people give at the end based on their distance or the number of Pokémon they catch. You also could have the event be a race, such as offering prizes to the people who catch specific Pokémon fastest or who are first to complete a route of Pokéstops. There are action-based applications, such as  Charity Miles, that you can partner with Pokémon Go to make this work.

2. Bring someone with you when you play.

We're not talking you and your best bud gallivanting around town here. Instead, find someone who truly needs a companion, like at-risk kids who need something to do after school until their parents are done at work or a senior who otherwise wouldn't exercise. Your local police and social services departments can tell you about organizations that need volunteer buddies.

3. Perform random acts of kindness at Pokéstops.

Many Pokéstops draw lots of different people at once, and they're often near local stores. Strike up conversations with fellow trainers. Then do something kind for them, such as paying their lunch tab, handing out granola bars, bottled water or fruit, or handing out homemade cards that remind the players how worthwhile they are.

4. Designate specific community organizations as Pokéstops.

Many people in need of support don't know where to go in their communities for help. In other cases, they just need a little nudge to take the first step. Submit requests to Niantic for the company to designate locations that provide assistance as Pokéstops. Examples can include your local churches, police department, crisis intervention center or social services branch. Just be sure you talk to the managers at those agencies first--there might be logistical or safety issues you're not aware of that might warrant placing a Pokéstop a short distance away from the organization you want people to know about. Flyers or posters at the Pokéstop can direct people to the organization if this is the case.

Pokémon Go might have been designed for entertainment, but with a little creativity, that doesn't need to be its only purpose. Think outside the box and it truly could be life changing.

Published on: Jul 19, 2016
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