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Activity 1: Faithful Footprints
Activity time: 5 minutes
Materials for Activity
- Faithful Journeys Path (Session 1, Leader Resource 2)
- Cutouts of footprints and (optional) wheelchair tracks, at least one for each participant, in a variety of colors (Session 1, Leader Resources 3 and 4)
- Push pins, glue stick or tape
Preparation for Activity
- Think of something you have done since the group last met that represents your Unitarian Universalist beliefs. Identify the Principle(s) your action reflected. Write a few words about it on a footprint, with your name.
Description of Activity
This activity reinforces children's learning as they model translating faith into action for one another. To strengthen children's Unitarian Universalist identity, help participants see how their own behavior demonstrates specific Principles.
Gather in a circle. Point to the Faithful Journeys Path and say:
Together we are taking a journey to learn what it means to live as Unitarian Universalists. Each time we meet, we have a chance to talk about ways our actions show our beliefs about what is right and good. This is called "putting our faith into action."
When you share about something you have done that shows what you believe, you can choose a footprint or tracks for us to put on our Faithful Journeys Path.
Hold up the footprint you made of your own faithful action. Tell what you did and how it represents your Unitarian Universalist beliefs. If you can connect your action to a Principle, briefly explain. For example:
- I made phone calls to remind people to vote (or, I voted), because I believe in our fifth Unitarian Universalist Principle, that we all have a say in matters that concern us. When people vote, that's one way to have every person's opinion be counted.
- I have a neighbor who was sick last week. I helped him bring his trash outside, because I believe in the second Unitarian Universalist Principle, which says we believe in being kind and fair.
- I put my water bottles and juice bottles in the recycling bin, because I believe in the seventh Unitarian Universalist Principle, which reminds us to take care of the Earth that all life shares.
Ask the children to think of an act they have done, since you met last, that reflects Unitarian Universalism. You may wish to prompt:
- Did anyone do something that helped make things fair? (justice, equity, and compassion)
- Did anyone help someone else? (inherent worth and dignity, interdependent web)
- Did anyone take care of nature or another animal? (interdependent web)
- Did anyone listen to someone else who had a very different opinion? (search for truth and meaning, acceptance of one another)
- Did anyone play with someone new whom you did not know very well? (acceptance of one another, encouragement to spiritual growth)
As participants name their actions, write a word or phrase describing the action on a footprint or wheelchair tracks cutout. Invite children to write their names on their cutouts and post them along the edge of the Faithful Journeys Path. While in early sessions you posted cutouts near the start of the path, have participants post cutouts so that they continue to make progress along the path over the course of the program.
To stay within the time frame for this activity, use these guidelines:
- Encourage children to share their faithful act in one or two brief sentences.
- If the group is big, you may wish to limit children to sharing only one faithful act per week.
It is very important to avoid judging participants, either with criticism or praise. Avoid phrases like "Great job!" or "You're fantastic!" which might suggest that acts of faith vary in their value or encourage children to compete to share the "best" act.
You should, however, respond to each child's contribution. Listen carefully to what a child tells you. After each child shares, say something like, "Thank you for sharing," followed by a summarizing sentence, such as:
- Being kind to new children at school is an action that treats others like they are important.
- Suggesting your friends all vote to decide what to play together is an action of democracy and fairness.
- Cleaning up garbage at the park is an action to take care of the Earth.
- Teaching your brother to talk is an action that affirms each person's learning.
- Taking care of your dog is an action of love.
Identify the Unitarian Universalist Principles each act represents; refer to the Principles poster if the room has one or indicate a relevant signpost on the Faithful Journeys Path. By responding specifically to each child's faithful actions, you will help them feel pride, a sense of accomplishment, and their own empowerment as agents whose actions and choices reflect Unitarian Universalist beliefs and values.
Including All Participants
Along with cut-out footprints (Session 1, Handout 3, Faithful Footprints), provide wheelchairs (Session 1, Handout 4, Making Tracks for Faith) in the same colors of paper. Encourage all the children - not just those who use wheelchairs for mobility - to sometimes use a wheelchair instead of footprints to represent their faithful actions.