Table of Contents Pat on the Back / Group AppreciationStones of activism build an edifice of hope“We’re # people working to end sexual assault!”Group Sharing Pledge of Action
To conclude prevention activities, many use an exercise to support community action, build a cohesive group and reinforce the learning of the session. Ice Breakers and Group Building Exercises are also used.
- I have a suggestion for a smaller group in which members know each other at least somewhat (a school class or community group, for example). I’ve used this activity in both support and educational groups for the last session when they are more comfortable with me, each other, and the material.
- Each person gets a piece of paper, writes their name on the top, and tapes it to their back. Each participant is then required to write at least one positive statement about each individual on the paper. After that, each participant stands and reads their paper to the group. At first most everyone feels awkward, but once they get started they can’t stop and surprise themselves with all the nice things they have to say about each other.
- As an advocate and a prevention educator, I often cover topics such as self-esteem, boundaries, assertiveness, etc. in addition to prevention education materials. This exercise helps group members to counter the negative messages they have internalized and gives them a list of their positive qualities from people they trust. It’s a great self-esteem booster, fosters a sense of team work, and ends the group on a positive note.
- I enjoy this exercise because discussion of self-esteem is integral to the work we do and an indispensable part of healing from the trauma of domestic and sexual violence. (Sarah Holdwick, Underground Railroad, Inc., MI)
- I use routinely, with youth and adults is fun and always goes over big, is empowering, and reinforces concepts. I use some form of cardboard stock and make about 8×11 or larger blanks with string or ribbon connected at the two top corners, enough string to go over someone’s head and hit mid-back. (Clear so far?). Then I provide crayons, markers, stickers, etc. and ask each person to wear their sign on their back and write on one another’s (while on the back, so they can’t see) appreciations for what they learned from that person, what they appreciated about their input, or about their work in general (if they work together in a community), or any wish for this person. I make sure each person gets numerous comments, and participate myself. Everyone goes away with validation and some reiteration of concepts from the training. This ties in well with my emphasis on self-care and mutual support for the hard work we do. (Carol Plummer)
Stones of activism build an edifice of hope
- My colleague Karen in West Virginia used the Alice Walker quote (below) about each of us needing to bring our own small stone of activism to help build an edifice of hope. She then showed them a bag of colored glass beads from West Virginia glass (you can use actual stones, shells, etc.) and encouraged folks to take one and keep it on their desk, computer monitor, etc. to remind themselves that they DO make a difference. The bag is then passed around as a version of the Native American “talking stick” and the person who has the bag says something they’ll take with them from the training, workshop etc. With Karen’s permission, I now use this activity most of the time as my closing. (Ben Atherton-Zeman)
- “It has become a common feeling, I believe, as we have watched our heroes falling over the years, that our own small stone of activism, which might not seem to measure up to the rugged boulders of heroism we have so admired, is a paltry offering toward the building of an edifice of hope. Many who believe this choose to withhold their offerings out of shame. This is the tragedy of our world. For we can do nothing substantial toward changing our course on the planet, a destructive one, without rousing ourselves, individual by individual, and bringing our small, imperfect stones to the pile. Sometimes our stones are, to us, misshapen, odd. Their color seems off. Their singing…comical and strange. Presenting them, we perceive our own imperfect nakedness. But also, paradoxically, the wholeness, the rightness, of it. In the collective vulnerability of presence, we learn not to be afraid. …even the smallest stone glistens with tears, yes, but also from the light of being seen, and loved for simply being there.” (Alice Walker, Everything We Love Can Be Saved, Introduction, p. xxlll – xxv.)
“We’re # people working to end sexual assault!”
- You basically get everyone in a large circle and one person says “I’m one person working to end sexual assault”, and they and the person next to them say “We’re two people working to end sexual assault” and so on, so that by the end the entire circle is chanting “We’re [insert your optimistically large number here…twenty-five? fifty? one-hundred?!] people working to end sexual assault!”
- I’m sorry I don’t know if the activity has a “name”, or if it specifically originated anywhere… I know I’ve seen it done at several Take Back the Night rallies (Stephen Montagna, men stopping rape, inc.)
- It can be very empowering – reminding us that we’re not alone in this struggle, etc. It’s reminiscent of Marge Piercy’s poem The Low Road: …”It starts when you say We / and know you who you mean, and each / day you mean one more.”
Group Sharing Pledge of Action
- The speaker picks the most simple and concrete prevention tip she/he offers during the workshop, and asks members of the audience who pledge to use it to stand and represent that pledge. Ask them to look around and see how many people believe in the same thing they do. It’s prevention in action.
- This idea will only work if you have buy-in from the audience (and a decent-sized audience), but it is simple and potentially very empowering and community building.
- I’ll apply it to a domestic violence workshop for young men which appeals to them as agents of prevention, but it could be applied across topics if done well. The speaker could say to the youth: “We’ve talked about the problem of violence against women, and how men can be part of the solution. As we’ve said, one of the most basic things a man can do to help stop violence against women is to teach younger men how to respect women. You have an opportunity to take the first step. The next time you hear a younger man say something disrespectful about women, you can tell him that’s not right. If you pledge to take this step, please stand now, so the leaders in this room can show each other where they are.” (Teresa von Stamwitz)