Needed: 3 or 4 small balls (tennis ball size)—it adds to the fun to have different kinds of balls or even a small item that can be thrown such as a small stuffed animal. All balls should be fairly soft.
Have the group form a circle. With one ball make a practice run of the exercise. The facilitator will throw the ball to one person, who in turn will throw the ball to a different person. Each participant throws the ball to the same person every time. Keep tossing the ball around the circle to people who have not received the ball yet until everyone has received the ball once. The last person to receive the ball will then throw it to the person who started the cycle. Participants can be encouraged to call out the name of the person to whom they are throwing the ball.
After the first practice run, continue throwing the ball to the same person, speeding up the process. After it seems the group has the idea and is following the pattern well, introduce a second and then third or fourth ball.
After a few minutes as people are having fun and improving you can stop the game to debrief. Debriefing questions can cover topics such as what it took to successfully do the task, what enabled the group to improve, etc.
TRAUMA AWARENESS VARIATION:
The facilitator will need to stay outside the circle, providing instructions to get the game started, but nor being a participant. Alternatively, if there is a co-facilitator team, one can lead the group juggling and the other can carry out the next part of the activity.
Instruct the group to keep the process going. After the group is well into the game, the facilitator (or co-facilitator) gently pulls one of the participants out of the circle, perhaps saying, “Come with me.” The person is removed from the room or to a distant edge of the room. Let the group deal with the resulting confusion and try to find a new pattern. Then remove a second person, then later a third person.
Debrief about initial feelings, how awareness about the loss of a person developed, how the group members felt about the loss, how leadership emerged to develop new patterns, what successive losses felt like. After debriefing members in the circle, ask those who had been removed what some of their feelings and observations were.
How have the experiences in this exercise been reflected in other experiences people have had? In what ways were these experiences similar? In what ways different? How might the actions taken to meet the group juggling challenge provide insight for dealing with losses in other contexts?