Activity 1: Take a step forward

Activity 1: Take a step forward

Materials needed:

  • Role cards
  • An open space (a corridor, large room or outdoors)
  • Tape or CD player and soft/relaxing music
  • A hat


60 minutes

Activity description in steps:

We are all equal, but some are more equal than others. In this activity participants take on roles and move forward depending on their chances and opportunities in life.

  1. Create a calm atmosphere with some soft background music. Alternatively, ask the participants for silence.
  2. Ask participants to take a role card out of the hat. Tell them to keep it to themselves and not to show it to anyone else.
  3. Invite them to sit down (preferably on the floor) and to read carefully what is on their role card.
  4. Now ask them to begin to get into a role. To help, read out some of the following questions, pausing after each one, to give people time to reflect and build up a picture of themselves and their lives:
  • What was your childhood like? What sort of house did you live in? What kind of games did you play? What sort of work did your parents do?
  • What is your everyday life like now? Where do you socialise? What do you do in the morning, in the afternoon, in the evening?
  • What sort of lifestyle do you have? Where do you live? How much money do you earn each month? What do you do in your leisure time? What do you do on your holidays?
  • What excites you and what are you afraid of?
  1. Now ask people to remain absolutely silent as they line up beside each other (like on a starting line)
  2. Tell the participants that you are going to read out a list of situations or events. Every time that they can answer “yes” to the statement, they should take a step forward. Otherwise, they should stay where they are and not move.
  3. Read out the situations one at a time. Pause for a while between each statement to allow people time to step forward and to look around to take note of their positions relative to each other.
  4. At the end invite everyone to take note of their final positions. Then give them a couple of minutes to come out of role before debriefing in plenary.
  5. Start by asking participants about what happened and how they feel about the activity and then go on to talk about the issues raised and what they learnt.
  • How did people feel stepping forward – or not?
  • For those who stepped forward often, at what point did they begin to notice that others were not moving as fast as they were?
  • Did anyone feel that there were moments when their basic human rights were being ignored?
  • Can people guess each other’s roles? (Let people reveal their roles during this part of the discussion)
  • How easy or difficult was it to play the different roles? How did they imagine what the person they were playing was like?
  • Does the exercise mirror society in some way? How?
  • Which human rights are at stake for each of the roles? Could anyone say that their human rights were not being respected or that they did not have access to them?
  • What first steps could be taken to address the inequalities in society?