Theme G & A
In order to pursue our dreams we first need
to break free from the chains which oppress us. Together
we can make our dreams come true.
• Those chosen by the group
• To create a positive atmosphere
in the group.
• To reflect about the mechanisms
of oppression, discrimination and exclusion.
• To lead the group to positive action
and encourage follow up activities.
Time: 20 - 30
10 to 40
• 2 balloons per participant
• 2 pieces of string (about 50 cm
long) per participant
• Permanent felt-tip or marker pens
- enough to share
• One block of sticky labels and
• A blank wall or notice board
• The room should be large enough
for people to run around and the central space free of chairs
1. Ask the participants to reflect individually
for a minute on the kind of society they would like to live
in and then to identify one or two characteristics of that
2. Ask them to write those two characteristics
on a sticky label and then, one at a time, to come up to
stick their label on the wall or notice board.
3. Now ask the participants each to think
about two things, "chains", which prevent them
from pursuing the two characteristics of their ideal society.
4. Hand round the marker pens, give each
person two balloons and two pieces of string and tell them
to blow up the balloons and write on in big letters the
two "chains" that prevent them from pursuing their
5. Go round the circle and ask each person
in turn to say the two words they wrote on their balloons.
6. Tell the group that they now have the
possibility to break the "chains". Each person
must tie one balloon to each ankle. When everybody is ready,
explain that to break the chains they have to stamp on the
balloons to break them.
To add some more fun and competition, you
may like to suggest the participants try to burst each other's
balloons while protecting their own.
7. Give the signal for the game to start.
Debriefing and evaluation
Start the discussion by asking whether participants
liked the activity and what they felt about it. Follow on
with questions such as:
• What makes the chains that
"oppress" us so heavy? Where do they come from?
• Do you think there are people
who carry more chains than others?
• Who are they?
• Can we do something to help
them break their chains?
Tips for the facilitator
This activity fits together well with the
activity, "Dreams" as they
deal with similar topics. Play "Balloons" after
the group has put together their dream drawings.
What is interesting in "Balloons"
is the dimension of fun and excitement when everybody is
stamping on the balloons and you can hear them bursting.
This therefore is the element to keep if you adapt the activity.
Instead of using balloons, you may opt for
condoms. Condoms have the advantage of being harder
to break and therefore the task of bursting them is more
exciting. On the other hand, some varieties are very hard
to burst so you should try them out before deciding. In
some groups using condoms has the advantage of helping to
break taboos about talking about sex and AIDS. But, be aware
that in some settings their use could be counter-productive!
A simplified version of this activity just
using the balloons and strings, although expensive, is useful
as an energiser or starter for the group.
Suggestions for follow-up
Ideas for concrete activities to follow-up
will come from the discussion. One possible outcome could
be that the group plans some specific activity on which
they'd like to work together to "break the chains".
Another might be that they plan to work to realise a particular
aspect of their ideal society.
You might like to go on to the activity
Dear Friend which provides an opportunity
to explore views and feelings about issues in greater depth.
If the group would like to take practical
action to tackle racism in their school or club, then they
could go on to do the activity, 'Responding
to racism' in Compass.