Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Heeding the Call: A Program on Justicemaking for Junior High School Youth

Activity 1: Juggling Our Strengths

Activity time: 15 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • A basket
  • One small beanbag stuffed animal for every youth
  • Newsprint, markers and tape

Description of Activity

Youth explore the complexities of juggling numerous responsibilities.

Ask for a volunteer scribe. Invite youth to share things they believe are strengths for themselves. These need to be short and concise. For example, instead of saying, "I'm Brian and I'm good at baking cookies," Brian would say "I'm Brian, and I'm a baker." Or a builder. Or a writer. Or a comedian. Or a runner.

Once a list has been created, gather youth and leaders in a circle for a juggling activity. Explain that only underhand tossing of the beanbags is allowed. To keep the game safe, no one is allowed to toss a beanbag until they have called out the intended catcher's name, made eye contact, and made sure that person's hands are empty. Demonstrate an appropriate arc and speed by tossing one beanbag to someone on the other side of the circle.

To begin the group juggle, ask participants to hold up one hand. The leader with the basket of beanbags should have a youth next to them start the toss by calling out someone's name and tossing the beanbag to them. Let the participants know that this first round will involve tossing the beanbag to someone who has not received it (they will put their hand down when they've received the beanbag), and the leader with the basket of beanbags should receive it last. Ask participants to remember to whom they tossed the beanbag and who tossed the beanbag to them because that will be important to know for the next round. When a participant has the beanbag in their hands, they say the name of the person they are about to toss it to before completing the toss and so on until it ends up with the leader who has the basket of beanbags.

Once the beanbag makes it around the group, have them repeat the tossing in reverse order so the youth who started the group juggle receives it last.

For the next round, have the youth toss the beanbag in the original forward order, but this time they say the strength of the person as well as their name. So "Brian the baker" instead of just "Brian." Allow a few moments for youth to get reminders about strengths from those they're tossing to and receiving from.

Explain that there will be beanbags continually added throughout this round so they need to be constantly ready to receive and toss a beanbag. The leader should add a second, third, fourth (and so on) beanbag by handing a beanbag to the starting youth at appropriate intervals. The leader decides if and when more beanbags need to be added. (You might be able to have as many beanbags going as there are youth in the circle.) The beanbags will eventually come back to the leader. There will be a web of beanbags going back and forth and that complexity creates the lessons in the debrief. After the beanbags have gone around a few times, the leader should begin to drop them in the container instead of handing them to the starting youth. Depending on time and the energy of the group, you may want to do another round either in forward or reverse order.

Following the activity, invite the youth to discuss the activity:

  • What was challenging?
  • Did the activity mirror how you feel some days-always trying to keep numerous tasks going at once?
  • Did anyone drop a beanbag? How did the group respond? Did everyone slow down or stop to help that person get back in the flow of the game? If so, how does that show responsibility for one another? If not, what does that say? Were there other examples of collaboration or leadership?

Including All Participants

If a youth is unable to use their hands for throwing, ask her/him to hold a basket to catch the beanbags. Another youth can stand beside them and toss beanbags caught in the basket for them.