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Religious Youth Service

Sports for Peace Program - Team-Building Exercises

The following interactive learning exercises can be used as part of Sports for Peace programs. This can be used in conjunction with a service project or the UN International Day of Peace, September 21.

"Helium" Stick

To prepare, roll one sheet of newspaper diagonally into a thin stick. Assign groups of five or six people per "stick" to stand in a circle around it. Each person puts an index finger under the stick to support it, alternating fingers in a circle.

Tell the group that the objective of this exercise is to lower the stick to the ground while keeping each person's index finger in contact with the stick. To do this requires working together, being patient, and communicating effectively.

The tendency is for the stick to surprisingly go UP instead of down because everyone is trying to support the stick (this exercise is called a "helium" stick because a balloon filled with helium gas will rise). Members of the group often blame each other for lifting the stick UP, although each person generally helps push it up.

The group succeeds in lowering the stick when members take individual responsibility and communicate well.

Balloon Ballet

This fun game that promotes cooperation is done with balloons. To prepare, inflate many more balloons than the number of people involved in the activity. In an open area where people can move around ask everyone to stand in a circle.

Tell people that the objective is to bounce the balloons up, keep them in the air, and not let them touch the ground.

Throw balloons into the circle until each person has one balloon to keep in the air. Each person tends to focus on his or her balloon. After a while, throw more and more balloons into the circle. This will create an environment where people will need to take responsibility for more and more balloons. Participants will need to cooperate and communicate to keep the balloons in the air.  Stop adding balloons when it seems the group is pushed to its limit.

After the exercise ask the participants to share what they learned about team work and cooperation through this exercise.

Human Knot

To prepare, have groups of five to seven participants (you can make larger groups for more experienced participants) stand in circle facing each other.

Tell them to put out their left hand and hold the hand of someone who is NOT standing next to them. Then put out their right hand and hold ANOTHER person's hand who is not next to them.

Now ask them to untangle themselves WITHOUT letting go of each other's hands (they may change the way they grip hands).

See also the Sports for Peace Program Description.

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