Activity time: 10 minutes
Materials for Activity
- Social justice posters, index cards, and non-sticky painter's tape
- Optional: A computer with Internet access, and a large monitor or digital projector
- Optional: Newsprint, markers, and tape; and stickers
Preparation for Activity
- Decide how much time you have for this activity and what it needs to accomplish. If the group will use a consensus process to choose a social justice cause for which to witness, your time for the gallery viewing will be quite brief.
- If you have time to extend this activity and have Internet access, read Alternate Activity 4, Public Witness Online and consider incorporating it. The alternate activity guides you to demonstrate "public witness" by exploring an age-appropriate advocacy website for examples.
- Obtain social justice posters. If you have planned a public witness experience for the group, obtain posters related to the topic-for example, if children will march, rally, or speak out for humane treatment of animals, obtain posters advocating spaying/neutering of pets, pet adoption, or factory farm regulations. Other causes may include recycling, marriage equality, immigration policy reform, fair trade, or peace/anti-war (such as a poster with the famous slogan "War is not healthy for children and other living things."). Find posters appropriate for this age group via Zazzle (recycling; spay/neuter), Reach and Teach (Defense of All Families poster), the Teach Kind website ("Help Me!" circus poster, "Shut Up Violence" poster, "We Are Not Nuggets" poster), and Progressive Catalog (a colorful, simple fair trade poster).
- Display posters around the meeting space. Write each poster's name or topic and the illustrator, if you know it, on an index card, and post cards alongside posters, gallery style.
- Optional: Prepare an online gallery of social justice graphics. Download images to show the group as a slide show, and cue the slide show. Here are some sources:
- Ricardo Levins Morales is one modern artist who has designed many social justice posters. His graphic illustration of global inequity in access to clean water appeared in the Summer 2010 UU World Family pages.
- The Graphic Imperative was an art show presented by the Massachusetts College of Art and Design and Philadelphia University. It includes social justice posters from 1965 to 2005.
- The Syracuse Cultural Workers catalog has myriad items from tee-shirts and posters to CDs and DVDs to support public witness on a variety of causes.
- Optional: Test equipment and Internet connection, and cue any short videos you wish to show the group.
- Optional: If the group needs to choose a cause for which to witness, plan to extend this activity by 5 to 10 minutes to lead the consensus process described in Session 14 of this program. Review Session 14, Activity 1, Story - Game Day.
Description of Activity
Children view posters/videos that witness for justice and (optional) choose a cause for which to do public witness.
Say, in these words or your own:
When we speak out in public about righting a wrong or urging people to do good acts, that is called public witness. Sometimes we can speak with our voices in public. Sometimes we witness by going to a march or a rally and hold posters or signs in public.
Public witness is a way of working for a better world. For example, many people are working on the problem that many children do not have enough to eat. Some people donate food to food pantries. Others serve food at shelters to families who need a healthy meal. Still other people work to pass laws to make sure families have enough money for food.
And some people do public witness about hunger. They write books and articles. They create plays, TV shows, music, and art to tell everyone about the problem of child hunger and suggest ways to solve it. They speak to Congress and hold public meetings to talk about solutions.
Show the group the No Kid Hungry website. Play the video (:49). Under "Ways to Get Involved," point out the link to Spread the Word and the ways it invites us to witness for ending childhood hunger in the United States by sharing information online. Watch actor Jeff Bridges' public service announcement. Ask:
- Why would an organization want a celebrity spokesperson? Is that a kind of public witness?
- Can you name any other famous person who speaks out for a justice cause?
Tell the children that going to a rally or making a poster can also be a form of public witness. Invite children to visit the gallery of public witness. Give them several minutes to visit all the posters and/or see the slide show.
Re-gather the group.
Invite the children to play a game. Tell them you will call out a justice cause and children should quickly move to a poster that witnesses for that cause. If the group is large, ease congestion by calling out "If your name begins with letters A through M, stand by the recycling poster. If your first name begins with N through Z, stand by the peace poster."
If any of the posters have been displayed before in the congregation, ask children if they can identify which ones.
Unitarian Universalists have a long and proud history of public witness. We believe we should speak up and speak out when we see a wrong that needs righting, people afflicted, hungry, or injured by immoral laws or practices. Public witness for a justice cause is a sign of our UU faith. Public witness is one way to show we want to help to create a world where everyone is treated equally and fairly.
If the group needs to choose a cause for which to witness, take at least five minutes to lead a consensus-finding activity. Post newsprint and ask children to generate ideas. List all suggestions on newsprint, including yours. Lead the group to eliminate ideas that are impractical or impossible. Then, give each child three stickers and invite them to vote by placing stickers on the ideas they like the best. Engage the group to identify the three most popular ideas by calculating the number of votes each idea received. Then, you may announce the idea that had the most votes as the winner. Or, ask if any children did not vote for any of the top three, and allow them to say which of the top three they prefer. Their votes may change the results.
Including All Participants
If any children in the group have mobility limitations, do not use a game that requires children to move quickly from place to place.