Holding in Trust

Grade Level: 
7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
Youth Advisory Committee
Youth Club
In this activity participants learn through physical experience how people are involved in communities and introduce the idea of “holding in trust” through a physical activity.

How does it feel to be excluded from a group? What does trust mean to you and how does it relate to inclusion? 


60 minutes


  • Chairs 

  • Music


Perfrom musical chairs "exclusion style"
  • Participates are going to play a game that is universally learned in grade school. The game is “musical chairs.” Place chairs in a circle with seats to the outside. Start the music. When the music stops, everyone must find a chair. Remove a chair each time before music resumes. The winner is the last person to claim the single remaining chair. 

Process this round:

  • Discuss how our communities exclude people. Ask what feelings were experienced when each person was eliminated from the game until one person was left to win. 
  • Discuss how the feelings of people excluded early in the game compare to those who remained longer. How do these feelings represent what happens in our community? 
  • Talk with the “winner.” How does he or she feel? When does this happens in a community? What can we, as “trustees,” do about excluding certain people in our community? 
Perform musical chairs "inclusion style"
  • Tell the group they are going to play musical chairs again, but this time, instead of excluding people, everyone will be included. Arrange chairs in a circle, one for each person. Each time the music stops, remove a chair but everyone stays in the circle and continues to sit. Note: Participants will have to sit with/on each other. The goal is to notice the least number of chairs available in the circle and still provide a seat for everyone. The group has to work together to get everyone seated. It will get harder and harder as the number of chairs grows smaller and smaller. Continue the activity until the group decides they cannot do it with any fewer chairs. Note: To speed up the activity take more than one chair out at a time. 

Process this round: 

  • How were people responding to each other? What was the tone of the group during this version of musical chairs?  
  • How was this feeling of community different from the last feeling of community? 
  • What made this way work better?  
  • How was the group able to get so many people on so few chairs?  
  • What does this activity tell us about how communities can work?  
  • What might be our role as a trustee to build a community more around keeping people in rather than leaving people out? 
Perform "no chairs" musical chairs
  • Ask everyone to hold hands and form a circle. Next, drop hands and ask everyone to face to the left and take one step into the center of the circle. Keep taking one step in until the group is formed into a very tight, evenly rounded circle. Explain that, for this activity to work, each of us must trust the people in front of us and behind us. This activity will only work if there is trust in one another. It only takes one person to not trust and the whole circle will break apart.  
    • Note: Allow for participants to “pass,” but encourage total participation. The facilitator begins with a count of 1-2-3, and, as the facilitator counts, everyone begins to bend down slowly so on the count of three everyone is sitting. The entire circle will be in a “trust sit.” If it does not work, try again. After several tries, if it still does not work, have the group try later or on another day. If it works, have the group extend their arms. If the TRUST is there, the trust sit will work. 

Process this round: 

  • How were we able to sit without any chairs? 
  • Who held you in trust during this activity? 
  • Who did you hold in trust during this activity? 
  • Who was the most important person/“trustee” in the circle? 
  • Without all of us working together, would we have all been able to sit? 
  • Would this activity have worked as well with only one or two people such as the winners in the first musical chairs?