Please Help Me!
The importance of cooperation
by Penny Hollander (revised, originally published in 2006)
Suitable for Whole School (Pri)
To explore the positive effects of help and cooperation.
Preparation and materials
- You will need to set up a crocodile-infested swamp! Mark out an area at the front of the hall to be the swamp, and place mats or similar across the area to represent small stepping stones. The idea of the exercise is to demonstrate that it is much easier to cross if everyone holds hands and goes across in a chain. Make sure that the mats are not slippery.
- Familiarize yourself with the Bible story of the men who took their friend to Jesus, found in Luke 5.17-25.
- Ask for volunteers, perhaps one child from each class plus one adult. Explain that they are going to take part in a cooperative teamwork exercise.
Ask the team to stand at one side of the swamp. Explain that the aim is to get everyone safely across the crocodile-infested swamp. They only have small stepping stones to help them across and they need to ensure that they don’t fall in and get eaten by the crocodiles!
Allow the children to have a go at crossing the swamp. Hopefully, they will come up with the idea that everyone has to hold hands to help and support one another across.
After everyone has crossed the swamp, ask them how it felt to have the support/cooperation of the others.
- Explain that cooperation is a very important part of living together in any community – at home, in school and in the local area. Ask the children about things they do that involve cooperation, such as getting up when they are asked in the morning, helping parents with younger children and working in groups on a school project. Cooperation helps everyone to feel safe, valued and special, especially when things are difficult or someone has a problem.
- The Bible contains several stories about cooperation. One such story is found in Luke 5, and is about a man who couldn’t walk. The man desperately wanted to get near to Jesus because he had heard that Jesus could heal the sick. He wanted to be cured so that he could walk again, but he needed the help and cooperation of his friends to get there. His friends carried him on a mat and brought him to the house where Jesus was teaching. Unfortunately, so many people had crowded into the house that the friends couldn’t get anywhere near Jesus. What could they do?
- Could they push other people out of the way? No, there were too many people around to do that.
- Could they shout for Jesus to come to the man? No, there was too much noise for Jesus to hear.
- Could they leave the man where he was, knowing that it was impossible for him to get to Jesus? No, they didn’t want to give up on their friend.
So, between them, they came up with a brilliant idea. The friends took the man up to the flat roof of the house, took some tiles off the roof to make a hole and let him down on the mat through the roof, right to where Jesus was! What’s more, Jesus healed him. He said to the man, ‘Get up, take your mat and go home,’ and also forgave the man for all his wrongdoings. Everyone was amazed!
- The question is, would the man have been healed if his friends hadn’t cooperated and worked together to get him to Jesus?
Perhaps another question for each one of us is ‘Can we, by cooperating with one another - in however small a way - help each other to achieve more or make someone’s life easier?’
Time for reflection
Let’s spend a few moments thinking about the different ways in which we can help and support one another by cooperating – at home, at school or with our friends.
Just imagine how it would have been for the man who couldn’t walk if, instead of finding a way of getting him to Jesus, his friends had argued about who had the best idea and then fallen out with each other and left the man where he was.
Who can we help today, in the classroom, in the playground, around school and at home?
Thank you that you have made us to be a support for one another.
May we all learn to cooperate together so that we can give help and care where it’s needed and all feel safe, valued and special.
‘Kum ba yah’ (Come and Praise, 68)
‘When I needed a neighbour’ (Come and Praise, 65)