Willow in the Wind
Provides a gentle, but important and challenging activity to begin
building genuine trust amongst people. Requires good facilitation
and fairly mature group.
Group members should already have spent time together, know each other's
Establish a genuine tone; whilst fun is allowed, the primary objective
is looking after and caring for one another. This requires a calm,
supportive atmosphere. If particpants are unable to genuinely
sustain this kind of atmosphere, then look for a less serious activity.
There is the potential for physical and psychological injury.
The group needs to be taught correct spotting technique:
one foot in front of another
arms outstretched, elbows locked, fingers loose
ready and alert
In groups of about 8, one person volunteers to be the "willow" in the middle.
Facilitator demonstrates the "willow":
closes his/her eyes
arms crossed and hands on shoulders
keep butt cheeks tight and body straight
establishes contract with group (see below)
does a "trust lean" and allows him/herself to be "passed around" the group.
The final step before leaning is to create a contract between the
"willow" and the group. It can go like this:
Important: Ensure the group is tight, should-to-shoulder, arms
outstretched. In this position, hands should almost touch the
person standing in the middle. This ensures that the initial fall
will be very gentle. Gradually the group can ease back to allow a
more expansive lean. Distribute large and small people evenly, to
avoid weak points in the circle.
should allow him/herself to be passed around by the group as long as
she/he likes (usually a couple of minutes). When he/she has had
enough, simply open eyes, stand up, and thank the group.
The quality of the atmosphere and caring will generally determine the
proportion of people prepared to volunteer. Above 80% is usually a
sign of a reasonably healthy group.
As a debrief or an intervention if a group isn't creating a trusting
atmosphere, I've asked people to individually rate out of 10 how
supported they felt by the group -- and show this to the group by
holding the number of fingers up. This allows the facilitator to
draw out more objectively which people felt supported and what else the
group might do to support more people.
Equipment: large area preferably with soft ground for falling, e.g, grass.
Time: ~5 mins per person in group
In groups of about 8, a person in the middle closes his/her eyes,
does a "trust lean" and is "passed around" the group.
Requires good facilitation and fairly mature group.