- Ask students who their heroes are. Write them all on the board without comment, and don’t attach students’ names to the heroes.
- Tell the stories of at least two “Giraffes” from the Giraffe Heroes Project Website.
- Spark a class discussion about the Giraffes, the risks they took, and the common good that their actions served. Tell them that “Giraffe” heroes stick their necks out for others.
- Go through the list of heroes on the board and ask what risks each of them has taken and who they helped by their actions.
- Without embarrassing the nominators, guide the class through a discussion that helps them see that being rich, talented, gorgeous, or bulletproof can make people celebrities, but not necessarily heroes. (For the bulletproof ones, remind them that it isn’t brave to do something courageous if you know you can’t get hurt).
Collaborating on a Presentation
- Divide the class into small teams. Ask each one to brainstorm several possible Giraffe heroes and to select one to present to the class. Different teams could be asked to focus on heroes in the news, literature, history, movies, the community, etc.
- Each group presents its hero’s story using drama, art, narrative, song— encourage them to be imaginative.
- Ask the class to discuss each hero’s story, focusing on the risks taken and the caring shown. Make a new list of class heroes, including all those who have indeed stuck their necks out for others. Don’t forget to include anyone from the first list who turned out to be a real hero.
- Students can present these heroes to the school in a Hall of Heroes display, at an assembly, and/or in P.A. announcements.
- Throughout the school day, mention opportunities to stick one’s neck out to help others (e.g, when someone is bullied, insulted, or excluded , or when a school or community problem arises).
Giraffe Heroes Project honors compassionate risk-takers who are largely unknown, people who have the courage to stick their necks out for the common good, in the US and around the world. When we tell their stories over social and traditional media, others are moved to stick their necks out too, helping solve significant public problems important to them. As long as there are Giraffe Heroes, there’s hope.
Telling the stories of heroes may be the oldest strategy in the world for motivating people into brave, compassionate action—and it works. See www.giraffe.org for books, blogs, curricula, speeches and trainings that can help your school succeed in inspiring students to courageous and compassionate action. Two full curricula, on for K-2, one for young teens, can be downloaded here. Both were created by the Giraffe Heroes Project.