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Faith In Action: Changing Rules
Activity time: 30 minutes
Materials for Activity
- Poster board and washable markers
- Letter-writing supplies: paper, pens, envelopes, and stamps
- Names and addresses of state or national legislators
Preparation for Activity
- Decide on your approach to this activity. If you choose the specific-rule option, research bicycle-helmet laws in your state; see Find Out More for information. If you think youth curfews are a good subject to introduce, research local law in advance.
Description of Activity
Ask participants to support or oppose rules that affect them. Use either the general or the specific approach.
General approach: Tell the group that their Faith in Action challenge for this session is supporting or opposing a rule that affects them. Say that you will divide them into small groups of two or three. Each group will meet separately and choose a rule that affects them that they wish to support or oppose. The rule could be a state, a national, or a local law. On the other hand, it could have something to do with a school or their congregation. It might even be an unwritten rule. Once each group has chosen a rule, they should decide whether to support or oppose it. Then they should make a poster supporting their position or write a group letter to somebody who can change the rule-whichever task you, the leader, has chosen (and obtained supplies for).
Before they set to work, remind youth of the "measured response" mentioned in Activity 3. To identify a measured response in this case, they will need to think through the consequences of what they are suggesting. If they oppose a rule, they need to think about what might happen without it. If they support a rule, what might be the consequences of keeping it (or enacting it, if it doesn't already exist in written form)? Divide the youth, and give each group the supplies it needs. If you are expecting the groups to write letters, you may need to assist them with identifying appropriate recipients. If the youth are concerned with a state law, for example, they will need the name and address of a local legislator to write. If you expect the group to make posters, help them decide who their best audience is and where to place their posters.
Specific approach: If you wish to save time by limiting the effort to a single rule, consider bicycle-helmet laws and ask each group to make a poster or to write a letter as described for the general approach. The groups will need to know the law in their area. In the state of Maine, for example, everybody under the age of sixteen is required to wear a helmet when riding a bicycle. If they do not, their parents may have to pay a $25 fine (See Find Out More for a website that summarizes state laws pertaining to bicycle helmets.). Another possibility is a youth curfew in your area. Before introducing that idea, you should find out from local authorities whether there is a curfew and, if so, what it covers. School dress codes are another possibility. For example, can boys wear earrings? Can anyone display any body piercing they choose? Are there any limitations about slogans on t-shirts? You may also find interesting issues in the news. This activity will work best if youth are invested in the outcomes.
When the groups have completed their posters or letters, ask them to reassemble and share with one another what they have done. Help them determine whether and where to place their posters and whether and how to mail their letters.