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Dignity

World Mental Health Day (10 October 2015)

by Janice Ross

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)

Aims

To reflect on the concept that love gives dignity to life.

Preparation and materials

  • Write the following definition of the word 'dignity' on a whiteboard:

    the state or quality of being worthy of honour or respect.

  • Also on the whiteboard write the following list of groups: the poor, the unattractive, the frail and elderly, those from different cultures and religions, the mentally ill.
  • Gather some images of L’Arche Community, such as those in The Guardian's article (available at: http://tinyurl.com/poqttj9) showing love being shared between able-bodied people and people with disabilities, and have the means to display them during the assembly (check copyright).
  • Have available the YouTube video of the founder of L'Arche Community, 'What does it mean to be fully human? Jean Vanier, Templeton Prize 2015'. It is 4.25 minutes long.



  • Also have available the YouTube video 'The Help - You is important', an excerpt from the film of this name. It is 0.21 minutes long.



  • Also write on the whiteboard L’Arche's motto for the 'Time for reflection' part of the assembly:

    Changing the world one heart at a time!

Assembly

  1. The theme for World Mental Health Day 2015 is dignity.

    What does 'dignity' mean? 

    Show the definition written on the whiteboard.

  2. If we look at the media, who does our society consider worthy of honour and respect?  Whom do we respect? How do we show respect? 

    This usually means that we will treat the person with politeness, in a thoughtful and caring way, in a way that meets their needs. Respect is something that is shown to someone.

  3. Are there any groups not included in this way of treating people?

    Take answers. The groups mentioned can be simply listed on the whiteboard or, if time permits, could be considered in more more depth with discussion. The groups listed already can be discussed in turn as a starting point, such as the following.

    The poor - the homeless, the refugee, the illiterate  . . .  How do we react when we see someone begging on the street?

    The unattractive - according to the media  . . .  What is our attitude to fellow pupils who are very overweight, who have bad skin or bad teeth?

    The frail and the elderly  . . .   What do we know about dementia and those who care for people who have been diagnosed with dementia?

    Those from different cultures and religions  . . .  Have we ever shown disrespect to or disregarded any of these groups of people?

    The mentally ill  . . .   
    What is our attitude to mental illness?

  4. Dignity is the result of being treated with respect. It is internal and is often associated with a sense of worth, well-being, a sense of being valued and of having purpose.

    To treat someone with dignity is to treat them as being of worth, in a way that is respectful of them as individuals. It sees the heart of the person.

  5. Show some of the images of people at L’Arche Community. 

    What qualities of relationship can we identify in these images? 
    Are these people with disabilities being shown honour and respect? 
    Do we get an impression of dignity being shown to people who may not be treated in this way everywhere or have been treated like this before?

  6. In 2015, a very prestigious prize - the Templeton Prize - was awarded to a man called Jean Vanier, who is the founder of L’Arche Community. This is a worldwide federation of people with and without learning disabilities working together for a world where all belong. 

    Show the YouTube video of the founder of L'Arche Community, 'What does it mean to be fully human? Jean Vanier, Templeton Prize 2015'. It is 4.25 minutes long.



    Let us consider some of the points made in the video.
     
    - To be fully human is to discover who I am in relation to others.
    - We need to recognize that we are all fragile. Our hearts can be deeply wounded, resulting in brokenness and anger.
    - There needs to be a unity between the head and the heart.
    - We are all seeking to be loved.
    - Each person is beautiful.
    - We need to learn to love one another, not because of the things we do, but bcause of who we are: 'I love you as you are.' 
    - We need to let down the barriers in our own hearts. 
    - We should be loved for who we are.

    Jean Vanier seeks to create places of belonging where these points are put into practice. Could we do this in our homes, in our schools, in our communities?

Time for reflection

In the film The Help, Aibileen Clark is a nanny who, as she is black in America in the 1950s, is often shown disrespect by her white and very arrogant employer. The child she cares for is considered to be overweight and clumsy by her mother and  she very much lacks the warmth of maternal love. Listen to Aibileen's message.

Show the YouTube video 'The Help - You is important'. It is 0.20 minutes long.

‘You is kind. You is smart. You is important.’ Take these words of truth into your own heart.

Prayer
Show L’Arche Community's motto on the whiteboard: 'Changing the world one heart at a time!’

Dear God,
Thank you that in your eyes we are beautiful.
Thank you that each one of us is loved with an everlasting love.
Yours is an unconditional love, not based on what we can do or achieve but on who we are.
Teach us to love others with that kind of love.
Amen.

Publication date: October 2015   (Vol.17 No.10)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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