Game teaches New Zealand children peaceful resolution
April 15, 2004
A UMNS Feature By Amy Green*
UMNS photo by Carey Moots
Ursula Dowman (left) says �The Incredible Journey� gives tips about dealing with bullies and physical abuse.
Dowman (left) says �The Incredible Journey� gives tips about dealing
with bullies and physical abuse. The board game teaches the merits of
peaceful problem solving. With support from religious groups such as the
Methodist Church of New Zealand, the game is available in primary
schools across the country. UMNS photo by Carey Moots, photo number 169,
Accompanies UMNS #176, 4/15/04
Learning how to resolve conflict peacefully is a game to children in New Zealand.
by growing violence throughout the world - from schoolyards to Iraq - a
group of New Zealanders three years ago began developing a board game
teaching the merits of peaceful problem solving. With support from
religious groups such as the Methodist Church of New Zealand, the game
now is available in primary schools across the country.
"The Incredible Journey," the game is meant to address bullying and
domestic violence by encouraging teamwork and compassion in children,
says Robyn Cave, coordinator for the Decade to Overcome Violence, a
World Council of Churches initiative. Cave helped in the game's
is aware of increasing signs of violence that's not only in our homes
but in schools and workplaces. It's global," she says. "This board game
has been like a local response, saying, 'How can we help children in
this country learn to live alongside each other in ways that are
creative and cooperative?'"
game was developed by an ecumenical group of New Zealanders. The
Conference of Churches in Aotearoa, New Zealand, the Methodist Church of
New Zealand and others helped fund the game's production and
distribution to congregations across the country. At $25 each in New
Zealand currency, congregations donated the games to schools.
concept is similar to that of Monopoly. On a board showing a map of New
Zealand, players use dice to move from one space to the next, drawing
cards along the way. The cards give players examples of problems they
might encounter at home or school. For example, one card sends players
backward a few spaces for stealing friends' lunches. Another sends them
forward for talking to a friend about an annoying trait without getting
UMNS photo by Carey Moots
�The Incredible Journey� board game features New Zealand natives like the kiwi and the grub.
Incredible Journey� board game features New Zealand natives like the
kiwi and the grub. The game is meant to address bullying and domestic
violence by encouraging teamwork and compassion in children, says Robyn
Cave, coordinator for the Decade to Overcome Violence, a World Council
of Churches initiative. Cave helped in the game�s production. UMNS
photo by Carey Moots, photo number 04-170, Accompanies UMNS #176,
Incredible Journey" is meant to be played with an adult nearby to give
guidance as children discuss these problems. The board includes a space
that requires all players to meet, no matter where they are in the game,
and solve a problem together. For example, one card asks how a child
who is ridiculed for being very tall could turn that trait into
the course of playing the game, they will be forced to lose their
advantage and come together. So that's a way of developing cooperation,"
Cave says. "It's encouraging them to use nonviolent behavior in
Incredible Journey" is used at some 2,000 schools, and organizers hope
to raise enough money to eventually make the game available
commercially. The designers plan to distribute the game internationally,
including in the United States, with the aim of educating people about
Adelma Matthews, a teacher who uses the game in her classroom, believes it has had a positive effect on her students.
have an idea of how to discuss things with someone they may not
necessarily get along with, and that's all about life," she says. "It
really helps them get their own ideas but listen to other ideas as well
and be able to accept the fact that their ideas could differ from
someone else's, and there's a lot of different strategies to dealing
with a problem."
is a freelance journalist based in Nashville, Tenn. Television producer
Carey Moots contributed information for this report. News media can
contact at Tim Tanton (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.