From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Game teaches New Zealand children peaceful resolution

From "NewsDesk" <NewsDesk@UMCOM.ORG>
Date Thu, 15 Apr 2004 12:46:31 -0500

April 15, 2004	News media contact: Tim Tanton7(615)742-54707Nashville, Tenn.
7 E-mail: 7 ALL-YE-I{176}

NOTE: A video story and photos are available at

A UMNS Feature
By Amy Green*

Learning how to resolve conflict peacefully is a game to children in New
Disturbed 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 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. 
"Everyone 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
The 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. 
The 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 mad.
The game is meant to be played in the presence of an adult, who can 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 something positive.
"In 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 everyday
The game 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 New Zealand.
Adelma Matthews, a teacher who uses the game in her classroom, believes it
has had a positive effect on her students. 
"They'll 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."

# # #

*Green is a freelance journalist based in Nashville, Tenn. Television
producer Carey Moots contributed information for this report.


United Methodist News Service
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