Handicap Crossing

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Handicap Crossing
Topic Trust, Teamwork, Problem Solving
Group Size 1-10
Prep Time 20-60 min
Setting Outdoor or Indoor
Age Group Youth
The Point What it's like to need and give help

Back to Experiential Learning

Supplies Needed

  • 1 10ft 4X4
  • 2 2ft 2X4
  • screws or bolts appropriate for attaching the 2X4's to the 4X4
  • Optional padding or wrestling type mats

How to Set Up

Take the 10 foot 4X4 and on both ends attach the 2 2X4's to form a base. The end result should be a 10ft balance beam that stands 2in off the ground. If the 4x4 flexes too much in the center, then add additional 2X4 cross pieces as needed.

Padding of some kind is preferable in case of an uncontrolled fall.

What Happens Then

Explain to your group that you have a situation where you need to get your entire group across this "bridge" that crosses a 300ft deep canyon. Once your entire team is across you are free.

The catch is that you have a certain number of handicapped people in the group. Designate as many handicap kids as you wish, but a good starting number is 1 for ever 4 people in the group. These people can only use their hands to assist in the crossing, but none of their legs.

Only 3-4 people are allowed on the bridge at one time total. If anyone touches the ground or falls off the bridge, then there should be an agreed upon consequence for that situation. A couple suggestions would be to have everyone who "fell off" to start back again, another would be to have the entire team start over. It's your call as far as how challenging you wish to make this activity. It is also a good idea to tell them that if they know they are going to fall off the bridge that they should just hop off instead of trying desperately to stay on by pulling at other people and falling on their backs.

As the group succeeds or fails, you can increase or decrease the number of handicap people. You can also add in extras. One time I had people throwing beach balls at the crossing group. It won't hurt them or force them off the bridge, but man is it a challenge to cross.

I like to debrief the group and talk about what they experienced:

  • What was it like to be helpless?
  • Did you feel like a burden?
  • Would you have liked to been one of the physically able people?
  • What was it like to have the burden of helping someone across?
  • Were you wishing that they would just be able to walk themselves over?

Then I like to ask questions, maybe have a Biblical message about helping others and/or needing help ourselves. Possible passage would be Ecclesiastes 4:9-10. You might be surprised that they can be more likely to give help than want to receive help.

Possible Problems

If you actually have handicap people in your group you will need to consider how to be sensitive to their situation or maybe not even do this activity.

Safety is an issue. If they are carrying the people in an unsafe manner you will need to guide them away from those approaches. It's no fun if somebody gets a big bump to the head.

Be proactive in safety by having designated at least 2 facilitators who are standing on the ground on either side of the bridge, with their hands up ready to be a "bumper" if someone begins to fall.


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