This activity for young people introduces the topic of bullying and can physically depict our connection with one another as members of the Body of Christ. Powerful, tangible connections can be made to Christ’s command for us to love one another and even how this new commandment fulfills the 10 Commandments. Finally, this activity can be used as a springboard for discussions on the role of the sacraments to help us be made “whole” with and through Christ and one another.
Divide youth into groups of 3-6 participants. Each group will need a five to six foot long roll of paper, markers, paper, pens, scissors and clear tape. The roll of paper should be long enough for a volunteer to lie down upon it. Let the young person lying on the paper choose a person of the same gender to draw an outline around them so that a cutout can be made from the drawing. Next the group cuts out the form. The cutout is no longer that of the youth that volunteered, but is rather a “person” that their group will “create.” Each group then names the person and describes their life in detail: age, nationality, parents, likes, dislikes, hobbies, achievement, etc. Group should fill out the form so that the personality of their person becomes evident in their drawing. Each group then introduces their person to the other groups.
Next, groups exchange cutouts with each group setting their new person on the floor in their midst. Group members then take turns saying something hurtful to the “person” such as what they hear in school and other settings, words or phrases like “you’re a loser,” “you’re stupid,” “you’re fat,” etc. (Inform them that cursing or using obscene language is not permitted.) Instruct youth that, as these words are being said, they are to tear off a portion of the “person” and hold on to it. Each group member takes two to three turns as time permits.
Each group then turns what is left of their “person” over. They begin to tape the person back together, this time using encouraging, complementary, kind words. After taping back their “person” cutouts, the final cutouts can be taped on a wall.
Process this exercise. Ask questions like: What does this exercise show you about the power of words? How did it feel to tear the “person” apart? Was it harder to complement this “person?” What did it feel like to have another group tear apart your creation? What will you do differently the next time you are tempted to tear someone apart with hurtful words?
Remind youth that for every hurtful word or phrase said to another person, it can take up to seven complements to make up for them. The effects of our hurtful words to another can be healed, like taping this paper cutout, but often the scars remain. God has created each of us, in His image and likeness. As members of the Body of Christ, we are called to respect and honor each other, by our words and our actions.