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close this bookCreative Training - A User's Guide (IIRR, 1998, 226 pages)
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close this folderHow was this user's guide to creative training produced?
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View the documentWorkshop objectives
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close this folderBasic facilitation skills
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close this folderEnergizers
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close this folderMood setting exercises
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close this folderLectures
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close this folderDrawing and chalk talk
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close this folderSelf-expression through pictures
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View the documentVariation 1: Printing from objects
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View the documentFolkstorytelling: Stories come alive!
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close this folderMaking and using case studies
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Lifeline is an activity that encourages participants to reflect on their personal lives and then discuss their reflections collectively. It focuses on the ups and downs in their life, the people and situations that influenced them, their present concerns or work, and processes that strengthened or weakened the image of themselves.



A lifeline aims to make participants identify the factors that drew them to their current situation, understand why people behave as they do and, when possible, relate these experiences to the general situation in society. It is designed to draw out lessons from the participants' own experiences.


· bond paper, craft paper, board or wall
· crayons, pencils, marker pens and chalk

Suggested approach


Doing a lifeline can be an emotional activity for some participants so the facilitator should be sensitive enough to spot this.

1. Ask participants to reflect on their life history from childhood to present or on a certain period only, e.g., a period when they got involved in the community. They should concentrate on key persons, events or concepts that have influenced them.

2. Have participants draw their individual lifeline using symbols to represent important events, people or influences in their lives.

3. When participants are ready, divide them in twos or threes depending on the size of the group, to share their drawings and reflections.

4 Ask each group to present its common and unique experiences through its group lifeline (drawing).

5. Analyze experiences using the guide questions below.

· What are the common experiences and when did these happen?
· What decisions in life did we make during this period?
· What factors led to these choices/reactions?
· What personal perceptions, biases and principles did we establish in the process?
· What are the unique experiences among our group? Why are they unique relative to others?
· How are our experiences related to what was happening in the community and society in general?
· What are our present goals in life?
· How do we want to achieve them individually and collectively?


The facilitator can outline other key questions depending on the range and depth of participation.


· Sharing through lifeline is a powerful and liberating process. By reflecting on one's work, commitment and feelings and sharing them with others, one is able to chart one's personal development relative to organizational, community or political timelines.

· Participants familiarize themselves with each other's experiences and perceptions and, in the process, build trust and understanding that are crucial in any training. Having a sense of where each is coming from, learners assert their ideas during heated debates while respecting other points of view.

· More importantly, lifeline challenges people to look forward and reflect on how they can enrich their personal and community life.


In a community educators' training, Virgie, a health worker in Cavite, used the caged bird to symbolize her life full of limitations from childhood until the early stages of her married life. She grew up with a strict father and four protective brothers. Her mother advised her to follow the rules for her benefit. To escape from all of these, she married early only to find herself transferred to another "cage" this time, with her children as added responsibilities. Her exposure to a community organization opened her mind to women's issues and influenced her later perspectives and decisions in life. Finding her niche, she decided to do community health work and eventually regained her confidence and sense of freedom.