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The social justice hero’s journey

Michael McVeigh  |  26 May 2020

Most people don’t just wake up one day and decide that they’re going to go out and change the world. There’s usually a long journey to reach that point. This game is aimed at helping young people become the next generation of social justice heroes.

Below are some instructions for preparing the game – which is an activity that should take a couple of hours.



Suggested participants: One or more Game Masters, and two or more players.

Instructions for the Game Master
The Game Master has the most important role in this activity. Before you can play the game, you will need to create some cards to help guide our heroes through their journey. There are four categories of cards, and you’ll need at least four cards in each category per player.

Knowledge Cards: These cards are there to help our hero build up the knowledge they need to become a social justice hero. Do some research about some social justice issues facing Australia or the world, and put together some multiple choice questions to help people deepen their knowledge. Make sure you get your information from trusted sources (e.g. UNHCR, Government sources, reputable NGOs). Each question should have three choices for the answer. If a player answers incorrectly, they will need to miss a turn and try again next time around.

Sample question: According to the UNHCR, what proportion of refugees around the world are under the age of 18? a) One quarter b) One third c) Half.

Experience Cards: These cards are there to help our hero better understand why they need to act for justice. Drawing from the issues you explored while creating the knowledge cards, think up some activities to help players understand the impact of poverty and marginalisation. Try and think of things that can be done in a home or classroom environment.

Sample experience: People in some impoverished countries have to carry water for many kilometres each day. Fill a bucket with water, or grab something of a similar weight, and hold it in your arms. When your next turn comes around, try to roll a three or six. If you fail, keep holding the bucket until your next turn.

Reflection Cards: These cards are there to help our hero gain the wisdom they need to be leaders. Drawing from the situations you’ve covered previously, think of some questions that require some deeper answers from players. Try and come up with ways to encourage players to think about what it’s like to live with poverty or deal with social exclusion and marginalisation. Alternatively, you can ask that the player spend the turn in quiet reflection or prayer on a particular issue.

Sample reflection: What’s one thing you would struggle with if you found yourself without a home? When your next turn comes around, share it with the group.

Action Cards: As the heroes near the culmination of their journey, they will be drawn to seek ways to create change in the world. These cards are there to encourage heroes to think of concrete things they can do in response to the issues raised while playing the game.

Sample action: What’s one thing you can change about your eating practices each day that can have an impact on the environment? When your next turn comes around, share your idea with the group. Roll a dice and if you get an even number you can continue. If you get an odd number, think of something else and share it with the group again next turn. If you can’t think of anything, you must miss a turn.

Content warning: Students may have direct experience, or know someone who has direct experience, of some of the topics or injustices talked about in the game. Teachers should raise this with the class before they start the game, and note that students are free to take a break at any point during the game, and to talk to a trusted adult about any feelings that might arise.

NOTE: If you’re struggling for ideas, you can find some more examples on the Australian Catholics website > Faith education. CLICK HERE for more ideas.



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