Two volunteers race against the clock to stack red Solo cups into the highest tower they can manage.
Queenie Smith keeps knocking them down.
After the one-minute exercise, Smith, who is leading this hour-long training on trauma and resilience along with two colleagues, explains to her audience that the game is a metaphor: “You constantly build up your life goals, but ACEs keep knocking them down.”
The exercise works because participants respond in exactly the same way individuals respond to adversity: some give up in frustration, some lower their standards, and some just keep plugging away.
It’s also a powerful exercise because Smith and her co-trainers are teenagers, members of the Youth Healing Team at Hopeworks ‘N Camden, an organization that uses a trauma-informed approach while teaching web design and other skills to help youth ages 14-23 return to school or find meaningful work.