Why this session is important
To help your group or individual to develop a creative SMILE plan to:
- Share the skills they love for a purpose they care about locally
- Scope out a practical way of making a difference that is meaningful, exciting and interesting to them
- Consider how and why their acts of kindness will make people SMILE and what the impact and outcome of these will be
- Create a lasting legacy that will keep people smiling over time
- Engage with a wider support community to ensure everybody smiles together
What you will need
How to do it
This session builds on and combines with the learning from We Care (Realising the need in our community) and We Count (Making a difference with our unique skills and talents).
Through a creative, step-by-step process you will help each group (or whole class) create a SMILE plan which outlines how they will:
Share the skills they love using for a purpose they care about in a
Meaningful way that excites and interests them, which makes an
Impact and leaves a
Lasting legacy which engages
Examples of previous SMILEs can be found in 60 Ways to SMILE.
Each SMILE plan may need a few iterations to ensure a balance is reached between creativity of ideas and realism of delivery given the practical time and resources available.
Having established each SMILE plan a preplanned time schedule for delivery will need to be outlined. This is flexible and dependent on the context, needs and opportunities available but in the past has ranged from a couple of hours per week for 4 – 8 weeks, through to a day or week long challenge, as well as SMILE being established and embedded as a thread throughout a whole year’s curriculum.
Start by re-caping on the two previous sessions ‘We Care’ and ‘We Count’ asking individuals what they have learned so far.
Hand out the Invitation to SMILE. You will see in the resources section there are two versions of this – one involving a £10 contribution to the challenge and one without. The challenge can be done with either and again may be context dependent given the availability of funding. While the challenge does not need any financial input, providing £10 gives each group a sense of responsibility, ownership and social enterprise. The choice is yours.
Whatever the choice, the SMILE Challenge is about Making a Difference not making money. We encourage you to be creative if you choose the second option. You may want to use existing resources, try fundraising, ask for sponsorship from local businesses, get five individuals to donate or work to gain £2 each, get the previous year group to pass on the £10 etc. If you have exhausted every avenue, but would like to include the £10, please get in touch and we will see if we can help.
Give each group the SMILE Template and use the prompts to work through this step by step.
In the ‘Share’ section, ask the groups to highlight what they really care about (from the We Care activity) and list the key groups of skills from the party exercise (in the We Count activity) that they would really love to use both individually and as a group.
For example, ‘We really care about children who are unwell and the impact on their families and would like to brighten up their day by using our Creative, Communication, Caring and Handy-Andy skills.’
In the ‘Meaningful’ section help, each group think creatively about how they can combine their skills to meet the genuine need. Encourage individuals to create as many ideas as possible, and from the list focus on the one that excites them the most, that maximises their skills and can be realistically achieved in the timescales and with the resources that are available.
For example… ’We will create a fun magazine and paint a poem on a planted flowerpot to help brighten their family’s day.’
To help explore possibilities you may find it useful looking at 60 Ways to SMILE and giving groups a few practical suggestions.
In the ‘Impact’ section, encourage groups to think about how and why their act of kindness will make people SMILE and the outcomes this would produce. This could range from giving people hope, creating a sense of belonging, making people laugh, inspiring positive action and improving wellbeing.
For example… ‘We will give vulnerable and sad people hope and love by showing that we genuinely care about them.’
In their plans, ask groups to identify how they hope to capture the SMILES – photos, film clips, drawings, talking heads etc.
In the ‘Lasting’ legacy section you may need to give groups a bit more of a helping hand as this may need some ingenuity to work out. How are they going to keep the SMILE going over time and begin to embed it as part of a legacy? This may be giving someone something to treasure, continuing the relationship over time, passing the challenge on to younger peers, involving more people and creating a ripple effect through social media.
For example… ‘We will keep the SMILE going by inspiring families to talk about the gift the poems gave them and passing it on to other people in need.’
One very simple way you can create a lasting legacy is by building up a strong relationship with a community or voluntary group over time, encouraging different year groups to continue working on an ongoing project or relationship, or embedding the activity within mainstream curriculum.
In the final ‘Everyone’ section, encourage groups to firstly think of all the barriers that might stop them achieving their SMILE Challenge and also list the actions required to begin to make their ideas a reality. From their list of barriers and practical steps, help each group list the core groups of people who can help them, who else can support them and members of their wider community who can get involved. These may range from family members, teachers and friends to local businesses, charities and volunteers.
For example… ‘We can make the magazine fun by interviewing the local DJ, getting a prize for the quiz from a local restaurant, asking a parent who is a printer to produce copies for free and a local artist to design entertaining cartoons.’
Ensure every group member has a set of actions to either do for themselves or ask other people to help with. Individuals may need access to computers, telephones, supportive colleagues etc. to help facilitate the process.
Once each group has completed their SMILE plan, ask them to present their ideas to their peers for constructive feedback.
Your groups are now ready to start the challenge – Good Luck and Enjoy!!
What other questions to ask/points to make
When enabling the delivery of each SMILE Challenge, the following actions may add value to the process:
- Find helping hands – it is always useful to have support staff, active parents, community volunteers and/or governors helping facilitate each group
- Learn through experience – the whole essence of the challenge is to provide individuals a safe space to try new things out, stretch themselves, fail well and learn from the ups and downs of the process. You will find a set of Reflection Questions to help unpack learning that can be either asked or picked at random out of a hat by each group
- Celebrate Success – make sure the smallest of achievements are celebrated. We have created a set of Awards to celebrate particular contributions made throughout the experience. These can help build individuals confidence, enthusiasm and commitment
- Present each group with a SMILE Certificate acknowledging their successful contribution to making a difference in their local communities through the challenge
- Develop a habit – giving back is one of the five ways to wellbeing (Give, Relate, Exercise, Appreciate, Try – GREAT) and has major impact on mental health, confidence, sense of belonging and future employability. Encourage individuals to build on their SMILE experience and develop a habit of a lifetime