Game Changers

COGI’s Prevention Team has developed its own Substance Abuse Prevention program called “Game Changers”. “Game Changers” is a compilation of evidence-based, interactive games played by children of mixed ages with adult facilitators teaching the importance of teamwork, making good decisions, self-esteem, pro-social norms, community attachment and resilience. As a part of our contract with the Schuylkill IU #29, COGI had the opportunity to pilot “Game Changers” in its ACHIEVE summer programming. Throughout the Summer of 2019, COGI’s prevention staff traveled to each school from Cohort 7, 8, and 9 to present the “Game Changers” program to 150 students from 3 cohorts. Before arriving to the school, COGI’s staff had planned out which activities they were going to do and what lesson went along with each activity. Some activities that were played over the summer were:

Thumb ball – Form a circle. Toss the ball to someone in the group, encourage each group members to look at the person who they are going to throw it to and ensure that the person throws it underhanded. Pass the ball around ensuring each person receives a turn. Encourage group members to place their hands behind their backs if they have already had a turn. Lesson/processing: How did you like the game? Did you learn something new about a classmate or friend that you didn’t know before? Icebreakers can also be used during different activities when students are starting to lose interest in current activity.

Shoes in a Circle – Great activity for small children. Have the kids sit in a circle and take off their shoes and place them in the middle of the circle, then have the children turn around as you mix up the shoes, have them grab the first pair of shoes they can an put them on as fast as they can. They do not have to belong to them, they do not have to match. (Note: Socks should be kept on of this exercise for sanitary purposes). Lesson/processing: How does it feel to walk in someone else’s shoes? You never know what a person may be experiencing until you had a chance to walk in their shoes.

Quick Line up – Without talking, team members line up in sequential order according to your birth, month and day only. Once your team has completed the line all raise your hands. Then have each person in your team go down the line to see if they were able to line up according to their birth, without talking to one another. Lesson/processing: What forms of communication did you use? How does it feel when one of your senses are taken away?

Group Juggle – Form a small circle of no less than 5 and no more than 7 participants. Form a pattern by tossing a ball. Each team member will always throw to the same person and receive the ball from the same person to have a distinct pattern and to be aware of which direction the ball is coming from and going to.   You will never catch and throw to the same person. Once the group is comfortable with the pattern the facilitator will add additional balls to the group. Try to keep adding balls until you are juggling the same number of balls as are participants in the group. Lesson/processing: What did you learn? What did you see happen? Different things can be thrown at us from different directions and we can be quickly overwhelmed. This activity focuses on teamwork and concentration.

Human Pretzel – Have group split into groups of 7. Form small circles have each person in the circle reach across with their right hand and grab someone else’s hand then reach you left hand across and grab someone else’s hand and not the same person you are already connected with. You are now a human pretzel or a human knot. The challenge now is to become untwisted without letting go of hands. Lesson/processing: Did you see a leader emerge? Was it frustrating when you couldn’t figure it out? This activity teaches critical thinking and teamwork skills.