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The Ethics Game


In March 2006, the SickKids Centre for Community Mental Health was delighted to receive a two-year grant of $75,000 per year from The Ontario Trillium Foundation toward the development of an ethics game for middle school (grades 6 to 8) children.

The Ethics Game Project was initiated by a group of community leaders, chaired by an Ontario Court of Appeal judge. The group approached The SickKids Centre for Community Mental Health in 2004 regarding the possibility of the Centre developing an ethics curriculum and game for young adolescents that would focus on the development of their understanding of rights, responsibilities, respect for others (especially regarding cultural diversity), and the ability to think through and make good decisions when faced with ethical problems.

Every day, teachers, parents, religious leaders, police officers, and youth court judges see adolescents who struggle with understanding the balance between their rights and responsibilities, the diversity of cultural values in Canadian society, and the core values that could help them when faced with pressure to engage in negative and sometimes violent resolutions to problems.

Evidence indicates that prevention provides the key to promoting good decision making and to reducing intolerance, discrimination, and violence stemming from prejudicial attitudes. The objectives of the game are to:
  1. Develop perspective-taking skills needed for constructive interpersonal/social relationships.
  2. Develop cognitive/social/emotional skills for constructive interpersonal/social relationships.
  3. Understand and make use of the core values of: respect for persons, diversity, and society; personal responsibility; interdependence of rights and responsibilities; empathy; compassion; and fairness and reasonableness.
  4. Learn and apply an ethical decision-making process to think through and respond to interpersonal/social relationship problems.
The project will develop an ethics curriculum, a game for young adolescents that will teach the curriculum in a fun way, manufacture the game, and develop resource materials for training teachers in the use of the game. The Trillium Foundation grant enables the Centre, with the assistance of an adult Advisory Committee and a youth Advisory Committee to develop and pilot test the curriculum, to develop a game prototype, and to write a facilitator's manual. It is anticipated that this part of the project will be completed by April 2008. Further funding is being sought for manufacturing and distributing the game, and for the development of teacher training related to the game curriculum.