Implementation at schools

The Tug-of-Life is hugely effective when implemented in a school. It gets the learners to think about their choices and dilemmas, and empowers them to make wise, life-enriching choices that are based on sound values.

Implementation can be done at a high-level (by just introducing the concept to learners), or it can be implemented for use in Life orientation and other subjects. The more widely it is applied the greater the impact on children’s choices and behaviour.

Challenges such as bullying, alcohol and drug abuse, promiscuity, depression, gangsterism and a whole range of other challenges can be effectively tackled by implementing the Tug-of-Life at schools.


Today’s adolescents face enormous challenges that derail far too many lives at an escalating pace (e.g. binge-drinking, drugs, bullying, promiscuity and many others). The Tug-of-Life    empowers young people to take control of their lives through proactive thinking, wise choices and applying sound values.

Tug-of-Life’s approach is life-changing, provides a new way of thinking, and takes effect straight away. Its concept can be applied to any situation in life.

The methodology is simple to implement and easily applied to any scenario, from the staff room to the classroom. The short implementation guide (available from Life Talk Forum) explains to educators how to introduce the concept to learners, and the Tug-of-Life book gives many examples of the 4 characters that take part in learners’ lives (eg Challengers such as alcohol, drugs and bullying, Galvanizers such as values and skills, Factors such as peer pressure and hormones, and Ch-izers such as technology and social media). Once the concept has been explained to learners they can apply it immediately to all aspects of their lives.


1.     Get to know the methodology and terminology. We suggest that you familiarise yourself with the concepts by reading through the Tug-of-Life book.

Depending on age-group, some of the sections will be more relevant than others. For learners from grade 10 up, all seven sections are of significance because they deal with issues that are (or will shortly be) encountered by the learners. For children from grade 0-6 the concepts can be covered during the activities outlined in Section D of the Guide. For educators and parents, all nine sections are of relevance.

2.     Explain the concept to all your educators and play the 3-minute video clip. Explain that the concept is simple, takes effect immediately, triggers behaviour change, makes educators’ lives easier by addressing some of the issues they might be grappling with, and doesn’t entail extra work for the educators.

3.     Identify a Tug-of-Life championin your school.

4.     Explain the Tug-of-Life conceptduring assembly.

a.     Give a brief description of the concept, the characters (Challengers, Galvanizers etc) and how they are applicable to all situations in life.

b.    Play the 3-minute introductory video-clip (if facilities allow for visuals and sound).

c.     For maximum effect the art students could create a Tug-of-Life scene, with a rope and relevant characters that you could use to illustrate your message.

5.     Encourage all learners and educators to apply the terminology in their daily lives.

6.     Display Tug-of-Life posters and terminologyin as many classrooms as possible. The posters provide visual aids to support the messages, and they enhance the activities.

7.     Use the concepts with children from Grades 0 – 12 (See Section D of the Implementation Guide for specific activities)

8.     Incorporate concepts into art, drama, dance or other activities. The topics can also be used for speeches, poems and essay-writing exercises. Performances and exhibitions can be held for parents and other schools.

9.     Explain the Tug-of-Life to parentsso they can reinforce the messages at home.

10.  Encourage parents to establishparenting Forums where relevant topics could be addressed. Interested parents could establish the Forum and Life Talk could help by providing guidelines if necessary.

For effective and life-changing results it is best to engage the learners’ thought-process on an ongoing basis. By having the concept ‘top of mind’, young people become conscious of their challenges, choices, consequences and the outcomes they strive for, and they become proactive and better able to take charge of their lives.


The Tug of Life®, a groundbreaking book addresses the challenges faced by today’s young people, and empowers the youth to take charge of their lives by making life-enriching choices. Alcohol and drug abuse, bullying, promiscuity and gangsterism are some of the key issues addressed by the Tug of Life. Steenberg High school in the Cape was selected for a monitored pilot to measure the programme’s impact on 480 Grade 8 and 9 learners, particularly where choices, goals and problem solving are concerned.

A summary of the outstanding results shows that after being introduced to the Tug of Life®concept:

1.     More than 75% of the programme participants feel that the programme assisted them with the choices and consequences thereof in their lives.

2.     More than 75% of the programme participants feel empowered to achieve their goals after being in the programme – they therefore have hope and they developed a better future perspective.

3.     More than 70% of the participants feel they can effectively solve their problems after being in the programme.

4.     More than 70% feel that the Tug of Life ‘characters’ helped them in their lives and helped them to understand their choices more clearly.

In addition, after participating in the Tug of Life®, the programme participants developed the following skills:

  • Enhanced self-image, self-esteem and self-respect
  • More self-confidence
  • More assertive
  • Making better choices
  • Positive future perspective
  • Developed hope
  • Empathy for others ( they want to help and assist others)
  • More honest and trustworthy

The Tug of Life is simple and fun, and totally flexible in how it is applied, and it assists in drawing up an effective ‘game plan for life’. As expressed by Mr Andre Kraak, principal of Steenberg High, “the beauty of Tug of Life is its simplicity and the fact that it can be applied within minutes of a brief introduction. There are no deadlines or time-consuming demands on the educators – it’s just a thought process and a vocabulary that everyone, irrespective of age, can apply to every situation in their life. I wish I’d had this tool a long time ago, it would have changed my life!’”

The Tug of Life results are powerful and exciting. In the words of school principals, company directors and church leaders (including Cardinal Wilfrid Napier) “this is what South Africa needs!”.

To implement Tug of Life at your school, church or company, or if you would like to help with funding disadvantaged schools or communities, email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .  Life Talk Forum is a registered PBO so all donations are tax-deductible and it provides a great CSI opportunity for companies. Let’s get everyone tugging!

Photo: When the programme was launched at Steenberg High in 2015, Life Talk Forum and author Izabella Gates donated 530 Tug of Life books to the Grade 8 and 9 learners and educators


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