All the flowers of all the tomorrows are in the seeds of today.

Indian Proverb


At the end of this activity you will have a wall of flowers that represents the diversity of the group. This is a creative activity that leads into a discussion about human rights in general: what they are, why they exist and how we should protect them.

Related rights



• To develop understanding about the connection between human   needs, personal well-being and human rights
• To develop skills to reflect and analyse
• To foster solidarity and respect for diversity


• A plain wall with enough space to hang all the drawings
• Copies of the handout sheet, one per person
• A pencil for each participant; erasers; coloured markers to share
• Tape to hang the drawings on the wall
• Flipchart and markers


Photocopy the handout sheet, one per person.

Key Date
  • 28 MayEuropean Neighbours Day


Explain that this activity will develop into a discussion about human rights, but that they are going to start by thinking about what it means to be human.

Part 1. Identifying what it means to be a complete human being
1. Explain that to feel complete as a human being a person needs to have certain needs fulfilled. For instance, for basic survival we all need to have food and water, sleep and air to breathe. We also need safety: personal and financial security and good health. We also need love and belonging: friendship, intimacy and a family. We also need esteem: to feel accepted and valued by others and to feel that we can develop to our full potential and feel personally fulfilled.
2. Tell participants that each of them is to draw a flower to represent their own needs as human beings. The flower should have eight petals:

  • basic needs
  • personal security
  • financial security
  • health
  • friendship
  • family
  • esteem
  • personal fulfilment

The sizes of the petals should correspond to how important each of the eight needs is for them at this time in their lives. Draw an example on a flipchart as you explain, but emphasise that this is only an example; each person's flower will be different.
3. Give out the paper, pens and coloured markers and ask each participant to draw their own personal flower in the middle of the paper leaving space around. Explain that there are no right or wrong, good or bad "answers"; everyone's flower will be unique. To motivate people, say that there should be no names on the papers.  Give them ten minutes to do this stage.
4. Now ask participants to think about the conditions that have to exist so that they can blossom and be complete human beings. Ask people to draw leaves around the flower to represent these conditions and to write key words on the leaves. Allow ten minutes for this.
5. Finally ask participants to fix their work on a wall to make an exhibition.

Part 2. Linking human needs to human rights
6. Allow participants time to look at the flowers. Then ask them to get into small groups of 3-4 and ask them to discuss the followed questions:

  • Are there any links between human rights and the flowers and the leaves? If so, what are the links?
  • Are human rights important? Why?
  • What do the words "human rights" mean to you?

Now ask each group to give their feedback, and then go on to the debriefing and evaluation.

Debriefing and evaluationGoto top

Start with a short review of the activity, then go on to review the small group discussions and find out what participants learnt about human rights:

  • Did you enjoy the activity? Why? Why not?
  • Was it hard to decide about the size of the petals? Are all of the eight needs important for a fulfilled life?
  • Are there other needs that are not represented by the petals, that is, are there other petals to add?
  • Did anyone write anything in the centre of the flower?
  • Are you surprised by any similarities and differences between different people's petals? What does this tell you about human beings?
  • What are the consequences for the individual of having damaged petals?
  • What is needed to protect the different petals? What did participants write on the leaves?
  • Are there any connections between what was written on the leaves and the idea of human rights?
  • What did you learn about your own identity as a human being? How does this relate to human rights?
  • Which human rights do we need most to let us blossom and grow to be complete human beings (where you live)?
  • Are some human rights more important than others? For whom? When? Where?
  • Why do we need to be on our guard to protect and develop human rights?
  • What can we do to best protect human rights?
  • Are there any needs not covered by any of the existing human rights conventions?

Tips for facilitatorsGoto top

The flower illustrated below is intended as an example only. It is important to stress to the participants that each one of them must decide for themselves how big the different petals should be. The colours that they choose for the different parts will also be a personal choice.

You should not draw attention to the centre of the flower; let any thoughts that there might be something of core importance emerge during the course of the activity. Similarly, let ideas for more petals, for example, cultural security, freedom to choose in all aspects of one's life, distributive justice, participation, identity and religion or faith, develop as the activity proceeds. In each case, draw out the relationship between the need, the consequence of it not being met, the benefits of it being met and how it is protected by human rights legislation and documents.

At step 4 you may need to give people a few tips. You can point out that the leaves make food to nourish the flowers from sunlight, water and carbon dioxide and suggest that, for example, some of the things needed to nourish financial security are a job, a banking system and trade unions. You can of course, add the right to work, as in Article 23 of the UDHR, but it is preferable that the participants work out the connection with human rights for themselves.

It is important to make the link between human needs and human rights and to show how human rights are the foundation for a world where everyone has their needs met. You may like to discuss the preamble to the UDHR with the group. It starts with the concepts of dignity, equality and the inalienable rights of all members of the human family as the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world. It goes on to describe the highest aspiration of the common people as freedom of speech, of belief, and freedom from fear and want.

VariationsGoto top

To shorten this activity, you can just do steps 1 to 4 and then start a general discussion about human rights with the whole group. This may be appropriate with young participants who may find it difficult to work at a conceptual level. Some may not understand the idea of making the different sizes of the petals to represent differences in degree of importance. They may also find making links with human rights rather abstract.
You can extend the activity by asking people to identify which human rights protect which human needs as identified during the activity. Use the summary of the UDHR .

Suggestions for follow-upGoto top

You may like to set participants a project to find out about how human rights have developed historically and to explore what are called "emerging rights".
If participants enjoyed talking about what was important in their lives, then they may like to explore their beliefs through the activity "Believers". Alternatively, participants may enjoy "Rights Bingo" , which is an active way to explore the relationship between daily life and human rights. If they are interested in emerging rights, the activity "Fingers and thumbs"  looks at the right to the environment.

Ideas for actionGoto top

Suggest participants do this activity with their family, friends and colleagues to start a discussion about human rights.

Further informationGoto top

The idea of needs to be a fulfilled human being used in this activity is developed from work by Maslow, and by Griffin and Tyrrell (Human Givens). Basic needs are those that we need to keep the body alive; sexual needs are included in this category. Personal security includes having shelter – a home, a "roof over your head" – and also feeling safe from burglars and gangs as well as war and terrorist attacks. Financial security means having money for a decent standard of living as well as a security net for if you become unemployed. Health means good health and also the availability of healthcare if you should have an accident or fall ill. Friendship includes the possibilities to join clubs and associations as well as being able to choose freely your friends and partner for intimate relations. Family means not being forcibly separated from your family. Esteem means being respected and valued by others, both for who you are and for what you do. Meeting your potential is also called "self-actualisation": it implies that you have the opportunity to be the person you want to be, to use your abilities to the full and to feel confident about yourself and your place in the world.

Image: Flower Power

Goto top


PDFDownload as PDF