The start of a new year is a good time for the MGR Foundation to be thinking about our teen pregnancy prevention programming. One of our Health and Wellness programs, WillPower is focused on supporting teens as they navigate the rough waters of sexuality through communication skills and factual, age appropriate information. In partnership with high school health teachers and community health educators, we offer students basic improvisational techniques in support of their sexual health content. These improv skills allow students to model positive behavior in the safe environment of the classroom before they need them in the real world.
I have used these activities with students in WillPower and at other events, in other youth programs. I know them to be great team builders – because everyone in the group is doing something new and challenging. Below are some of my favorites!
Have students line up on a marked start line. Indict the finish line. Racers are to run with the intention of losing so the last person across the finish line is the winner. No one can stand still or stop moving. Alternative version-racers are to race backwards towards the finish line.
Students stand in a circle, facing each other. Everyone watches someone but no two people can watch the same person. This way everyone is watching someone and is watched by someone else. There are two rules: do nothing, and if the person you are watching moves, you imitate their movement but exaggerate it a bit. The process goes around the circle and escalates. Despite the rule of “do nothing” the group ends up with extremes of behavior.
Students spread out so everyone has a couple feet of space around them. Then the facilitator instructs everyone to use their body to express whatever noun or verb the facilitator calls out. It is easier to start with pretty physical cues like basketball, running, horror film, baseball or driving. Eventually the facilitator calls out cues that are closer to the issue the group will be discussing such as leadership, teamwork, shame, bullying, and anticipation.
Sarah Cummings is a Program Coordinator at the MGR Foundation. She coordinates the CareTeam, dedicated to alleviating the effects of poverty through engaged and innovative service, and WillPower, teen pregnancy prevention program that utilizes peer theatre, supported by sexual education and parental involvement, to encourage students to think critically about their sexual and reproductive choices. She tweets @2ndcityslicker and blogs daily at secondcityslicker.blogspot.com.