Materials for Activity
- Newsprint, markers, and tape
- Optional: Media releases
- Optional: Newsprint, markers, and tape; and stickers
Preparation for Activity
- Invite members of the Justice Committee to describe the committee's work to the children. Tell them how much time they will have. Encourage them to bring visual aids, such as photos and videos taken at justice events and brochures published by community groups the committee supports. If they have a banner, they should bring it, too. Inform them that the group will be talking about public witness. Invite them to sing songs or chants that they include in their witness activities.
- Optional: If your congregation holds a justice or community service fair, plan to attend with the Signs group.
- Optional: If the group needs to choose a cause for which to witness, plan to use the consensus decision process described in Session 14 of this program. Review Session 14, Activity 1, Story - Game Day.
Description of Activity
Children witness for a justice issue of their choice.
Ask children what local justice issues concern them. These questions might help identify issues:
- Are there things that are unfair in their community?
- Do you know of any justice issues the congregation is involved in?
- Have you or your families participated in any public witness protest? If so, what were they protesting or advocating for? Are these issues still present in the community?
List the issues on newsprint. Help the group pick an issue they would like to advocate for or protest against. Possible issues include environmental (recycling, protecting land), hunger and homelessness (supporting shelters), bullying, and animal welfare (spaying and neutering pets, boycotting a circus that uses animals).
Keep the focus of the activity on public witness. Here is an example of the form the activity could take if children wish to advocate for spaying/neutering/adopting pets:
1. Identify a local organization to invite into partnership. It could be a clinic offering reduced rates for neutering pets or part of a campaign by a humane organization or a local shelter.
2. Identify a specific event the partner is hosting that all the children can attend.
3. Before the event, talk about reasons to spay/neuter pets and reasons why adopting pets from shelter is a good practice. Include an explanation of what spay and neuter mean.
4. Design and create posters and/or flyers to share at the public witness event that illustrate the problem and possible solutions.
5. Help children write and practice short statements in defense of spaying/neutering pets. Also, write and practice two or three short chants, such as "Spay, neuter, pet adoption/ help prevent overpopulation."
6. If the group will be on land not owned by your congregation or the partner organization, make sure it is legal for you to congregate and witness on the space.
7. If the event may be covered by news media, find out your congregation's policy around children and the media. Talk to your religious educator and the children's parents/caregivers about whether they are comfortable with their children being filmed and/or interviewed. Ask parents/caregivers to sign any releases that might be needed.
8. On the day of the event, gather with signs at a highly visible spot. Spend at least 30 minutes at the event, holding up signs, chanting, and delivering sound bites to whoever will listen.
9. Afterward, discuss the event. Would children do anything different next time? What did they like the best? Was the experience what they expected? What effect do they think their witnessing had on bystanders? How can they tell? How did affect them?