The Source for Youth Ministry
Jonathan's Resource Ezine

Weekly Resources, Ideas and Articles from The Source for Youth Ministry
Tuesday, January 16, 2007

In This Issue

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Something You Can Use This Week: Three Weeks of "Gridiron Gang" Video Clip Ideas, including small group questions, Bible passage, and a wrap up talk

We know how you love free resources. So for THE NEXT THREE WEEKS our EZINE will be featuring new VIDEO CLIP IDEAS for Gridiron Gang which was released on DVD/Blue Ray today. This week, the topic is Forgiveness; next week-Friends; week three-Christ's Change in Us.

Every once in a while a film is released that reminds youth workers that we can make a difference: Coach Carter, Stand and Deliver, Renaissance Man... this is one of those films. And it's riddled with discussion jumpstarters. If you haven't seen Gridiron Gang, stop by the video store tonight and pick it up.

As I mentioned in my review, yes, there is some violence and pretty bad language speckled throughout the film-a realistic glimpse of our institutional system. But don't throw out the baby with the bathwater. This film is a gem. This is the type of film I would have shown to my outreach clubs when I worked with a pretty tough group of campus kids. This raw film reveals a realistic glimpse of street life, tough choices, and their consequences (no sex or nudity). The film is very real, but it earns its PG-13 rating.

Gridiron Gang

Main Point: Forgiveness frees us to move on

Attention Grabber: Movie - The Gridiron Gang Clip

The movie is about a counselor in the juvenile detention center who wants to give kids a second chance. He starts a football team to teach them discipline, teamwork and accepting criticism.

This movie has several good clips that you could use to promote discussion. In the next three weeks we're providing three different discussion starters on different subjects from this one film. This is just one of them.

(CLICK HERE for IMDB's page of online previews for this film. Trailer #1 and #2 are actual previews, 3-6 are various clips from the film, just to give you a little taste.)

Clip: "How long did it take you to forgive your dad?"
In this scene Coach Porter has a one-on-one conversation with an inmate named Willie about forgiveness. Use the following introduction to introduce the clip.
    NOTE: Part of this clip is the same clip we use for another discussion from this movie about Christ's change in us. But this write-up (other than the movie description) is totally different.
Clip Introduction:
Today I want to show you a clip from the movie The Gridiron Gang. Many of you have already seen this movie, but for those who haven't, this scene is a conversation between a juvenile prisoner named Willie and Coach Porter, played by The Rock. Coach Porter is a counselor in a juvenile detention center who wants to give kids a second chance. He starts a football team to teach them discipline, teamwork and accepting criticism. In this scene, Willie, one of the players and inmates in the institution, is having a deep conversation about the changes happening to him in the institution. Since playing football, Willie is making better choices. But he's having trouble accepting the fact that he can be a winner, not just in football, in life. The barrier that is in his way is forgiveness.

Scene Script:
Start the clip at 1 hour, 31 minutes and 51 seconds. Here's the dialogue.
    Willie: (pause, hitting the wall, crying) I don't know what's happening to me, man! (crying)

    Coach Porter: I do. (pause) You're not the loser you were when you first got here Willie. You're just not used to being a winner.

    Willie: (shaking his head) My father said I was a waste of his time and his money.

    Coach Porter: Your father was a loser Willie. My old man was the same way. He spent so much time tellin' me I was no good- telling me I was nothin', I believed him.

    Willie: That why you're so pissed off all the time?

    (they both laugh)

    Coach Porter: Yeah. That probably got something to do with it. (sitting down next to Willie) I know how you feel Willie. You get to the point where you expect to screw up. You expect to fail. When we want to win we gotta let ?em go. Forgive ?em and move on.

    Willie: Forgive?

    Coach Porter: Forgive ?em. Other wise we give ?em too much power over us. And they don't deserve it.

    Willie: How long did it take you to forgive your dad?

    (long pause. Coach considers what Willie asks... and takes a moment to respond.)

    Coach Porter: Til just now. Til just now.

END CLIP at 1 hour 34 minutes and 08 seconds.

Transitional Statement:
Willie thought he was a failure. He had no hope, because his father had always told him that he was a waste... Willie subconsciously believed him. He almost expected to screw up. He expected to fail. But Coach Porter told him the secret to moving on... the secret to overcoming that failure: forgiveness.

Divide into Small Groups:
Let's go ahead and split up into our discussion groups, and then afterward we'll come back together for a final word.


Featured Article: The Games We Play... and the Consequences We Never Saw: Woman Dies from Water Drinking Game

by Jonathan McKee

I've heard a lot of youth workers use the phrase, "Well, it's easier to get forgiveness than permission."

Sometimes true. But what if the person is injured... or even dies?

A woman died less than a week ago playing a stupid and seemingly harmless game on a radio station. Could they have seen the warning signs?

One of the most popular resources on our web site is our SICK & TWISTED GAMES page, one of the many sub-pages on our GAMES & ICEBREAKERS page. This page provides games such as HAPPY SHAKE, where kids drink a blended McDonald's Happy Meal, or... GREEN OATMEAL, where kids have a contest eating green oatmeal, only to be shown a video afterwards of how the oatmeal was made! (You gotta check that one out!)

Gross can be fun, and it can serve as a good draw. But can it get out of hand? Does creativity sometimes trump safety?

For years we've been discussing the pro's and con's of some of our games and activities. Those of our readers who've been long time subscribers of our EZINE probably remember when we wrote about some of these issues, like the Chubby Bunny deaths or the "youth pastor feeding dog food to his kids" lawsuit (CLICK HERE). Some of you might even remember World Magazine taking cheap shots at our web site and our response to them (CLICK HERE and check out both of these articles).

As youth workers, many of us excel at fun or even crazy, but some of us lack responsibility and discernment. Believe it or not, you can have fun, and still be responsible. You can even be gross, but not belittle, or haze.

Over the years we've made a lot of adjustments to our game pages, removing and editing games as needed. We've made efforts to talk about safety, providing articles like Costly Mistakes and Their Unforeseen Consequences. We'll keep providing articles to stimulate thinking in this area. Because sometimes it's better to avoid certain activities all together... than to have to seek forgiveness when it's too late.

I leave you with this article to consider, from my local paper just yesterday.

Mom's Last Hours Recalled
Other contestants in radio contest say
woman drank over half a gallon of water.

By Christina Jewett - Bee Staff Writer
Published 12:00 am PST Monday, January 15, 2007

Contestants in a radio stunt called "Hold Your Wee for a Wii" revealed new details Sunday about an on-air water drinking contest that left a 28-year-old mother of three dead.

Jennifer Lea Strange died after drinking well over a half gallon of water Friday during the "Morning Rave" program on The End (KDND, 107.9 FM). About 18 contestants vied for a Nintendo Wii gaming console by drinking as much water as they could without going to the bathroom; Strange took second place.

James Ybarra, a Woodland man who gave up after drinking eight 8-fluid-ounce bottles of water, or half a gallon, said that Strange kept going.

Most contestants were hoping to get the console for their children, he said. Strange showed contestants photos of her two sons and daughter.

"It is sad that a mother had to lose her life to get something for her kids," he said. "None of us knew this could be a risk to our health."

The Sacramento County Coroner's Office said Saturday that Strange died of apparent water intoxication. A preliminary investigation didn't reveal any "life threatening medical conditions to explain her sudden death."

John Geary, general manager of Entercom Sacramento, which owns KDND, did not return messages left Sunday on his cellular and home phones. In an e-mail message to The Bee, he said:

"We were stunned when we heard this news. We are awaiting information that will help explain how this tragic event occurred. Our sympathies are with the family and friends of Jennifer Strange, as they deal with circumstances that are so difficult to comprehend."

Strange's husband, William Strange, 27, said late Sunday he was not ready to discuss his wife's death publicly. He released a photo of his young family, and a brief written statement describing his wife's generous and optimistic nature, and her devotion to her family.

"Friday, Jennifer was just her bright, usual self," he wrote. "She was trying to win something for her family that she thought we would enjoy. ... We miss her dearly. She was my girl."

The death touched a nerve throughout Sacramento and was publicized in news outlets from as far away as Toronto, London and Sydney, Australia.

Locally, The Bee's Sunday story drew numerous comments from readers. Some said it is common knowledge that downing water in such quantities is dangerous and that the contestants were responsible for engaging in such risky behavior. Others blasted the station for recklessly endangering people's lives.

Gina Sherrod, who competed with Strange in the contest, said her family listened to the radio show, and told her that a nurse was on air warning that drinking too much water is dangerous. Sherrod said a DJ rebuffed the nurse, saying the contestants signed waivers that addressed only publicity issues and made no mention of health or safety concerns.

Sherrod said she had no idea what risk she had taken until she saw news of Strange's death.

"I was so scared," she said. "I had the hardest time going to sleep last night because I was afraid I wouldn't get up."

Sherrod sat near Strange during the contest, which began shortly after 6 a.m. Friday in a break room at the radio station's offices on Madison Avenue.

Contestants had qualified by recounting the worst Christmas gifts they'd received.

Strange told Sherrod her worst gift was a set of flower-shaped champagne flutes wrapped like roses that shattered when she opened them.

Participants were each given 8-fluid-ounce bottles of water. They had two minutes to drink a bottle, waited 10 minutes, then drank another bottle.

The women chatted. Strange told Sherrod she and friends had sixth-row tickets to Friday night's Justin Timberlake concert at Arco Arena.

Sherrod said the contest room was quiet at first, but morning disc jockeys Trish, Maney and Lukas and radio personalities Carter and Fester came in and out of the room, pumping up the participants.

"We did it like we were drinking shots," Sherrod said. "Instead of saying 'cheers' we would say 'Wii' and then shoot it."

Ybarra, the Woodland man, said Fester went outside and sprayed the window with water and turned on a faucet to tempt contestants to use the bathroom.

"As time went by, it got harder to drink those small bottles," Ybarra said.

After contestants drank eight of the 8-fluid-ounce bottles of water, radio staff gave them larger bottles to drink, Ybarra said. That's when he left.

Sherrod drank half of a larger bottle before she ran out of the room and vomited.

"I felt drunk and really out of it," she said.

Sherrod left then. Strange was still a contestant.

"I spent the last hours with that poor woman. I couldn't believe it," Sherrod said.

After the contest, Strange had planned to go to work. She called a co-worker at Radiological Associates, crying. She had a headache and nausea and had to go home, said co-worker Angela Krause. Another employee tried unsuccessfully to reach Strange. She asked Strange's mother to check on her at her Rancho Cordova home. Strange's mother found her daughter dead.

The coroner's office said the final cause of death is not expected for several months.

Water intoxication -- or hyponatremia -- occurs when sodium levels in blood dip too low.

Two years ago a 21-year-old fraternity pledge at California State University, Chico, died after a night of hazing during which he drank excessive amounts of water. Four members of the fraternity later pleaded guilty to charges including involuntary manslaughter.

Sacramento Sheriff's spokesman Sgt. Tim Curran said Sunday that no investigation had been started on the case.

Friday's water drinking contest was not the first in the radio industry. Dave Gross, 46, a landscaper from Victorville in Southern California, said Strange's death brought back bad memories. He won a pool table, bar and bar stools last summer after winning a water drinking contest staged by a local radio station. He became violently ill afterward and wound up in an emergency room.

"When I heard about the woman in Sacramento, it sent a chill over me," Gross said Sunday. "This woman lost her life over a Wii. I could have lost mine over a pool table."


And please remember to keep the family in your prayers.

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