PHI Spark (No. 3)

Plan a Meeting Focused on Enjoying Playful Little Things

You have heard the old, familiar saying, "Little things make a big difference." This saying is so appropriate for the facilitators of a support group to keep in mind when planning a meeting.

Little things can make or break a meeting!

Here are a few ideas that have been very popular with other groups. They have proven to work well and most likely, they will for your group too.

  • A Michigan group reports they have assigned one man to be in charge of a short, humorous story at every meeting. They call it “Tim's Story Time" and it has turned out to be a favorite with the members. They look forward to it. It may be a story that is lighthearted, humorous in nature, or perhaps a short joke, but it should never be political, religious, or sexually inappropriate in content.

    If you think you would like to try this at your meeting and you do not have enough material, you may contact Bonnie Levitan by email at and she will be more than happy to provide you with Tim's contact information for some stories to get you started. This is truly a wonderful, fun way to inject lightheartedness and laughter into your group gathering.

  • Another easy, enjoyable activity is to have a raffle at the end of your meeting. The prize does not need to be expensive or elaborate, as everyone seems to really like winning almost anything!

    If your group has the funds, you could purchase something to raffle off. It might be a $10.00 gift card to Starbucks, Panera or McDonalds or a small plant from Lowe’s. Costco always has specials and one group reported they bought a velvety soft throw for $10.00, which proved to be so popular that they bought another one for the next raffle.

    If you do not have the funding, ask individual members if they could donate a $10.00 gift card or perhaps they may have something new around their house that has never been used and they would be happy to donate that.

    If you do not want the group to purchase raffle tickets, just cut paper into identical size pieces and have the attendees write their name on one piece, fold it over and deposit it in whatever container you have available for the drawing. For a ZOOM adaptation to this activity, the leader could write any number from 1-100 on a piece of paper in advance. Then at the meeting the members could each jot down a number. The closest number to the leader’s, wins the raffle. The prize could be mailed to the winner. As previously mentioned, people love to win something, so you can count on this to generate interest.

  • There are other kinds of stories, in addition to jokes and humorous material, that are excellent activities for starting a conversation. The facilitator can read a parable, or inspirational short piece that is meaningful to older, disabled adults. This is an activity that both reaches your audience in a personal, sensitive manner and will generate conversation within the group. The following story works well.

Once upon a time…

A well-known speaker began his keynote address by holding up a $20.00 bill. There were about 200 people in the audience, and when he asked, "Who would like this $20.00 bill," every hand went up.

He went on to say, "I am going to give this to one of you, but first, let me do this. He proceeded to tightly crumple the bill up into a tight wad. And then he asked, "Who still wants this? Still, everyone raised their hand in the air.

“Well," he replied, "What if I do this?" Then he dropped it and took his foot and ground it into the floor. He then picked up the dirty, crumbled bill and asked, "Now who still wants this?" And once again, everyone's hand was raised.

"Well, my friends, you have just learned a valuable life lesson. No matter what was done to this money, you still wanted it, because it never decreased in value, no matter how dirty, crumpled and damaged it became. It was always still worth $20.00."

As a side thought, you could combine this with the raffle and raffle off the $20.00 at the end.

  • Another simple activity might be to go around the group and have each person say a few words about one little thing they noticed in their environment during the past few weeks that made life a little better.

  • Finally, how about a game of Post-Polio Trivial Pursuit?

    Have 20 questions about polio or post-polio circumstances prepared ahead of the meeting. Each group member should get a paper copy of the questions to keep track of their answers. Here are a couple sample questions:

    What year was the Salk vaccine declared effective and safe?

A: 1955

How many types of polio are there?

A: There are three wild types of poliovirus (WPV) – type 1, type 2, and type 3. People need to be protected against all three types of the virus to prevent polio and the polio vaccination is the best protection.

Members with the highest number of correct answers win the game.

Please let us know what special things have worked for your group as we would like to share them with other leaders. Contact:

Just like the support group that you run; we can learn so much from each other.