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Hope for the Journey 2023 Activities Guide

The guide below offers suggestions for activities to reinforce what is taught and shared in the 2023 Hope for the Journey Conference. Based on the size and needs of your group, you can choose the activities that will work best in your context. It is divided by topic, which offers additional flexibility for your schedule. 

Many thanks to the team at Empowered to Connect for their work and input on this guide!

Ice Breaker Activities 

Starburst Game

  1. Break up the group into the corners of the room according to their favorite Starburst color. 
  2. Have each color answer the following questions:
    – Red – The best trip you have ever been on or a dream vacation
    – Yellow – Interesting fact about you or a hidden talent
    – Orange – Your theme song or your favorite genre of music
    – Pink – A bucket list item you want to check off or a bucket list item you’ve already checked off

Name Game Dance

  1. Go around the circle and say your name with a dance move. (Example: Sam and spin around)
  2. Then the group repeats the name and the dance move. (Example: Sam and spin around)
  3. The next person does the same. (Example: Sally and clap hands)
  4. Then the whole group repeats from the first person. (Example: Sam while spinning, Sally while clapping)
  5. Then the third person adds their name and dance move.
  6. Start back from the first person and continue repeating the names as you go around the circle, creating a “dance” with all the moves. So, if you have 10 people you will go back to the first person adding each additional person, one at a time, for a total of 10 times.

Alliteration Favorites

  1. Go around the circle and say your name along with one of your favorite things that starts with your letter.
  2. The group repeats it. (Ex. “I’m Anna, and I love apples!” and the group says “This is Anna, and she loves apples!”)

Calming Activities 

The sympathetic nervous system prepares the body for the “fight, flight, or freeze” response during any potential danger. The parasympathetic nervous system inhibits the body from overworking and restores the body to a calm and composed state.

Magic Mustache

  1. Press the index finger up against the upper lip like a mustache. 
  2. Count to five. The upper lip is a parasympathetic pressure point, so this provides a calming input.

Cool the Soup

  1. Cup hands together in front of your face as if you are holding your favorite bowl of steamy soup. 
  2. Smell the soup through a long inhale through the nose then blow the soup via a long extended exhale out of the mouth. 
  3. Repeat several times.

Push Down the Wall

  1. Find a sturdy wall, and try to “push it down” with your hands. This provides deep pressure calming proprioceptive input.

Square Breathing

  1. Visually locate a square in the room. No need to be near the square, just find it visually. 
  2. Hold a finger up in the air toward the square. 
  3. As you visually trace the square, count in the following way: 
    1. Trace across the top from left to right: Inhale for a count of 4.
    2. Trace down from top to bottom: Hold for a count of 4.
    3. Trace across the bottom from right to left: Exhale for a count of 4.
    4. Trace from bottom to top: Hold for a count of 4.
    5. Repeat as needed to calm.

Regulation Activities 

Below are several activity ideas to teach and practice the concept of regulation. The primary goal with the following activities is to get the group’s engine into the “red” and then do a calming activity to get them back into the “green.”

Cotton Ball War (Supplies: masking tape and cotton balls)

  1. Use masking tape on the floor to divide the room into two sides.
  2. Dump an equal number of cotton balls on each side, using the entire bag.
  3. When you say “GO,” the teams throw cotton balls across the masking tape line.
  4. When you say “STOP,” count how many cotton balls are on each side. 
  5. The team that has the fewest cotton balls left on their side wins.

Cotton Ball War (Supplies: masking tape and cotton balls)

  1. Use masking tape on the floor to divide the room into two sides.
  2. Dump an equal number of cotton balls on each side, using the entire bag.
  3. When you say “GO,” the teams throw cotton balls across the masking tape line.
  4. When you say “STOP,” count how many cotton balls are on each side. 
  5. The team that has the fewest cotton balls left on their side wins.

Balloon Tennis (Supplies: balloons and fly swatters)

  1. Blow up balloons.
  2. Divide into two teams. 
  3. Create a line with masking tape in the middle of the playing field.  
  4. Give each person a fly swatter.  
  5. Toss the players the balloons. The more balloons you add, the more complicated the game becomes. 
  6. You must hit the balloon to the other side of the line with your fly swatter.  
  7. If the balloon hits the ground on the other team’s side, you get a point.

Fruit Basket Turnover (Supplies: chairs)

  1. Have participants sitting in a circle in chairs.  
  2. Give each participant a fruit name (Strawberry, Kiwi, Banana, etc).  
  3. One person in the middle yells the name of a fruit, and anyone with that fruit name must get up and switch seats while the person in the middle tries to steal a seat.  
  4. The goal is to find a seat or else you are in the middle.

Biblical Foundation Discussion

Further enhance your viewing and group conversations by discussing the scriptural basis for TBRI. This topic is detailed in the “Created to Connect” study guide. A video featuring Dr. Purvis explaining the resource and individual chapters can also be found on the Empowered to Connect website. The “Created to Connect” study guide may also be downloaded in Spanish.

The following verses are featured in the guide and can be discussed among your attendees. 

  • Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; You will cry for help, and he will say: “Here am I.” Isaiah 58:9 (NIV)
  • God is kind, but he’s not soft. In kindness he takes us firmly by the hand and leads us into radical life-change. Romans 2:4 (The Message)
  • I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139:14 (NIV)
  • Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14 (NIV)
  • There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us. 1 John 4:18-19 (NIV)
  • Fathers, don’t exasperate your children by coming down hard on them. Take them by the hand and lead them in the way of the Master. Ephesians 6:4 (The Message)
  • My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:12-13 (NIV)
  • The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. Psalm 103:8 (NIV)
  • Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 2 Corinthians 1:4 (NIV)

Activity Ideas for Virtual Hosting

  • Change your background to a picture or place that represents how you are feeling as you process content. 
  • Create hand signals to respond to other participants’ thoughts and insights as they share (i.e. applause, thumbs up, etc.). 
  • Adjust the Starburst game by having each participant write down the color he or she chooses and share with the group. Then, ask the questions and have participants respond to the color they wrote. 
  • Rose, Thorn, Bud: Have everyone in the group share his or her “rose” (something for which he or she is thankful), a “thorn” (a challenge he or she is dealing with), and a “bud” (something he or she is currently looking forward to).

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