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Choosing hope

A Paralympics-themed assembly to challenge students always to choose hope.

by Helen Redfern

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)


A Paralympics-themed assembly to challenge students always to choose hope.

Preparation and materials


  1. Leader  Bad things happen. Every day. To each one of us. Some of these are fairly trivial in the grand scheme of things. However, some are totally devastating and life changing. Each of these bad events, however big or small, can leave us feeling desperate, hopeless and helpless.

    Reader 1  I got a letter in the post this morning saying I’ve been dropped from the Football Academy. This is what I lived for. Life doesn’t feel worth living any more.

    Reader 2  I lost my phone on the bus on the way to school this morning. My life is on that phone. I can’t go on without it.

    Reader 3  Last night my mum told me she has a lump and they think it might be cancer. I don’t know what to do. I can’t live without my mum.

    Reader 4  I’ve just found out that for the last month my boyfriend has been cheating on me with my best friend. I will never trust anyone again. I will never love again. My life is over.

    Reader 5  I injured myself in a gymnastics competition last week and go for the results of the X-rays today. I may never be able to do gymnastics again. Without that, I’m nothing. My life will have no meaning.

    Reader 6  It’s been a week now since my dog had to be put down. I still feel so sad. Life is not the same without him. I don’t think I will ever be happy again.

    Reader 7  I woke up with a massive spot on my cheek and have run out of foundation so I can’t cover it up.

    Reader 8  My mum and dad split up at Christmas and have just decided to get a divorce. There’s no hope of them getting back together any more. No hope of us being a happy family. No hope for me.

    Reader 9  When I came to print out my project this morning, it wasn’t on the computer any more. It was nowhere. I’ve lost all that work. I’m totally gutted. I can’t face doing it all again.

    Reader 10  I’ve just got my history essay back and I only got a ‘B’. I worked so hard and feel so discouraged. What’s the point in even trying any more? I might as well give up now.
  2. Story: A terrible accident

    On 25 April 2007, a bus mounted a pavement and crashed into three members of the same family. Sarah Hope was pinned under the bus, unable to move, with her mother on top of her. Sarah’s mother, Elizabeth, lost her life that day and Sarah suffered serious injuries. Sarah’s two-year-old daughter Pollyanna tried to crawl towards her mother, using just one leg. It was clear that her other leg was severely damaged. Sarah was deeply distressed that she couldn’t reach out to help her young daughter. Pollyanna later underwent extensive surgery – fourteen operations in just six weeks – and tragically lost one of her legs.
  3. This close-knit family suffered a terrible tragedy that day. They could have become completely overwhelmed by their sorrow. They could have given in to despair. Instead, they chose hope.

    The whole family have moved to be closer to Sarah’s twin sister, Victoria, and her family. With the help of counselling, they have survived the lows and the dark places.
  4. Because she is receiving the best medical care in the world, and because of her own great determination, Sarah’s little girl, Pollyanna, can now walk, jump, skip and therefore play, just like her friends.

    As she is growing quickly, she needs at least two new prosthetic legs a year. Her prosthesis specialist is in Surrey, and Pollyanna loves going there. Her movement is slow and she tires easily but when her leg is fixed in place, it’s hard to tell that she is missing her right calf and foot.

    When asked about her disability, she says simply that her right leg has gone to heaven. She loves drawing and is great at PE. She won a hopping contest at her school fete.
  5. Sarah Hope and her twin sister Victoria Bacon were determined to choose hope. They were committed to making certain that light would come out of the darkness.

    They recognized that thousands of children in developing countries don’t have access to good quality care and support and so struggle every day as a result of limb loss. In memory of their mother, Elizabeth, Sarah and Victoria have set up the charity Eizabeth’s Legacy of Hope. The charity supports children with missing limbs both in the UK and in less developed countries across the world. Elizabeth’s Legacy of Hope offers children who have lost limbs a bright and active future.
  6. In an interview, Victoria stated: ‘Out of the tragedy of the bus crash in April 2007, hope can come. This terrible event has opened doors for us to help amputee children all over the world to walk, jump and run.’

    Out of tragedy, hope can come.
    We know that was true in this story.

    Out of tragedy, hope can come.
    We know that to be true in the lives of the athletes training to take part in the 170 events in the Paralympic programme for the London 2012 Games.

    Out of tragedy, hope can come.
    We can know that to be true in the stories of the people around us and in our own individual lives.
  7. Everything looks different when you have hope.

    Let us return to the ten students we heard from at the start of this assembly. Let us inject them with some hope and see how that changes their perspectives.

    Reader 1  Being dropped from the Football Academy doesn’t mean I can’t play football any more. There are plenty of other good teams around.

    Reader 2  I guess losing my phone isn’t the end of the world. I’ll go to Reception and see if anyone has handed it in. Maybe they’ll ring the bus company for me. I’ve got an old phone at home I can use if I need to.

    Reader 3  I shouldn’t jump to conclusions. Maybe my mum doesn’t have cancer. And if she does, I’ll be there to support her whatever happens.

    Reader 4  I have plenty of other friends who will support me through this betrayal. It hurts, but in time it will make me stronger, I guess.

    Reader 5  I shouldn’t talk of never being able to do gymnastics again. The Paralympics are coming up. I’m really inspired by all those athletes who’ve overcome physical difficulties to compete. I’ll find something I can do, whatever my injury.

    Reader 6  I guess a week is not that long when you’ve loved a dog all your life. I have loads of great memories and photos. They say time heals. Let’s wait and see.

    Reader 7  I suppose my spot may look worse to me than to anyone else. If I try to forget about it, maybe no one will even notice. It won’t last for ever, anyway.

    Reader 8  I still have a mum and dad who love me, even if they don’t live under the same roof any more. I should be grateful for that.

    Reader 9  When I get home, I’ll start work on my project again. I can probably remember most of it. It won’t take as long to do as it did the first time.

    Reader 10  A ‘B’ in history is not that bad, really. Anyway, I’ll see the teacher after the lesson to go through what I did wrong. Maybe I can improve for next time.

Time for reflection

Leader  Let us take a moment to reflect on all that we have heard in this assembly today.





Please listen to the words of this prayer and, if you wish, make them your own.

Dear God,
we thank you for all the shining examples of people who have faced tragedy
and have chosen hope.
Help us to find a path through all that may happen to us in our lives.
Let us discover the light in the darkness.
Show us the sunshine after the storm.
Let us find hope amid the despair.
Show us the rainbow in the rain.
Let us find the courage to start living again.
Show us the good that can come out of the bad.
Let us choose hope.


‘What doesn’t kill you (Stronger)’ by Kelly Clarkson

Publication date: July 2012   (Vol.14 No.7)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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