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The race of life

To encourage the children to reflect on life as a race and to think about who they can get advice and guidance from to be best prepared for making the most of life.

by Helen Redfern

Suitable for Key Stage 2

Aims

To encourage the children to reflect on life as a race and to think about who they can get advice and guidance from to be best prepared for making the most of life.

Preparation and materials

  • The drama needs to be prepared in advance. It requires five characters, with the leader as the interviewer.

Assembly

  1. This summer, China is hosting the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
    The Games will be held from 8 to 24 August.
    302 events.
    28 sports.
    600 competitors from the USA alone.
    7 million spectator tickets to be sold.
    Competitors representing over 200 National Olympic Committees.
    Athletes who have trained day after day, pushed their bodies to the limits, sacrificed fun for discipline – all for this: the most important competition of their lives.
  2.   Introduce the drama: let’s imagine that we can meet some of them.

    Interviewer: Good morning, and welcome to Top Athletes Masterclass, the show where we reveal the secrets of how our top athletic stars train. Today we visit the Olympic village where our very own athletes are in training for the greatest test of their lives. And we’re here to ask them this question – how do you put into practice what your coach wants you to do?

    Enter runner.

    Our first guest is a runner. Welcome. So how do you put into practice what your coach wants you to do?

    Runner (running on the spot): Well, obviously, my coach can’t be with me every step of the way. I like him to write down all his advice, then I read this regularly, whenever I have a free moment. That way, when I’m running, all the useful suggestions come back to me and I can almost hear him encouraging me inside my head.

    Interviewer: Great tip. Thanks for that. And welcome to our next athlete.

    Enter weightlifter.

    Now I have a weightlifter with me. How do you put into practice what your coach wants you to do?

    Weightlifter (warming up): Well, I like to spend time with all the rest of the team. We spend hours comparing notes and encouraging each other. We all know the ups and downs of lifting and it’s great to be with others who understand what it’s like and can give you tips about how to get through.

    Interviewer: Thanks for your time. Another great idea.

    Enter horse rider
    .

    Here’s a horse rider. Excuse me, could you tell me, how do you put into practice what your coach wants you to do?

    Horse rider: Well, what I find useful is to make up rhymes that I learn off by heart. Here’s one: ‘Back straight, smile on face, that’s the way to get first place.’ Then when the going gets tough, I say the rhymes to myself and that really helps. Tally ho!

    Interviewer: Fascinating!

    Enter gymnast.

    My next guest is a gymnast. Welcome. How do you put into practice what your coach wants you to do?

    Gymnast: Well, I spend as much time with my coach as I possibly can. Every minute of the day, if I could. The more time I spend with her, the more I learn. It’s as simple as that.

    Interviewer: Great, thank you. Well, only one more athlete to speak to.

    Enter pole-vaulter with pole.

    I can tell from what you’re carrying that you’re a pole-vaulter. How do you put into practice what your coach wants you to do?

    Pole-vaulter: Coach? What coach? Why would I need a coach? What could a coach tell me that I don’t already know? I must admit, I haven’t done well in competitions so far and have broken a few bones along the way, but that’s just life, isn’t it? I’ll keep persevering – I expect I’ll get better in the end.

    Pole-vaulter exits; could trip over the pole on the way out if you can arrange this safely!

    Interviewer: Well, that’s all, folks! I’ll leave you with this question: in the race of life, how do you put into practice what your coach wants you to do?
  3. Ask the children, who do they learn from? Who do they consider is their coach in life? Include ideas such as literal sports coaches, teachers, parents and other adults, friends, classmates, etc. Also encourage the children to consider learning from books, internet and other media.
  4. Optional: Talk about the life of St Paul. In the book of Acts in the Bible, we meet a man named Paul who saw his life as a race. In one of his letters, as he neared the end of his life, he wrote: ‘I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith’ (2 Timothy 4.7).

    Like a starting pistol, a blinding light on the road to Damascus marked the start of Paul’s life with Jesus as coach. The encouragements along the way, as others learnt about Jesus, spurred him on to keep up the hard work. He was not put off by setbacks – even shipwrecks, disease and prison could not stop him.

    Like the gymnast, Paul spent time getting to know Jesus, his coach, through prayer.

    Like the runner, he read the manual – the Old Testament – and the stories told of Jesus, to remind him of all Jesus his coach had taught him.

    Like the weightlifter, he spent time with others who saw Jesus as their coach, so that they could share experiences and encourage each other.

    Like the horse rider, he used songs to lift his spirits when he was in prison, and to remind him of the truth.

    He lived his life with Jesus as his coach. With confidence, he could go on to say: ‘From now on there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give to me on that day’ (2 Timothy 4.8).

Time for reflection

Reflection

Let us reflect on our lives as a race.

Like the pole-vaulter, do you feel you can do it alone?

Do you feel like you don’t need advice from anyone?

Or do you recognize your need for people to help you?

Who is your coach?

Who do you listen to?

Who guides and advises you along the way?

Who encourages you when the going gets tough?

Your parents? Your friends? Your teachers?

Let us take a moment to be thankful for those people.

 

Prayer

Lord Jesus, we have so much to thank you for.

For the fun we will have watching the Olympics,

We thank you, Lord Jesus.

For all that we have learnt about Paul,

We thank you, Lord Jesus.

For all the people who help and guide us,

We thank you, Lord Jesus.

You came to run the race with us in this world,

We thank you, Lord Jesus.

You are always with us as our coach, through the Holy Spirit,

We thank you, Lord Jesus.

We can pray to you at any time and anywhere,

We thank you, Lord Jesus.

Amen.

Song/music

‘One more step’ (Come and Praise, 47)

Publication date: July 2008   (Vol.10 No.7)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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