Play your best card

Play Your Best Card is a team-based game that encourages teens to have conversations on a range of topics relevant to young people. It also encourages them to discuss challenges and what to do in a range of different situations. 

The game is key to raising awareness of youth organisations that you can contact when you need help. It aims to inspire teens’ critical thinking and encourage them to have conversations about issues that they are going on for them right now, or that they might encounter in the future.

Unlike other resources or tools that might focus on one topic, Play Your Best Card can spark conversations on a range of topics relevant to young people. The discussions change every time the game is played, as young people are given the creative challenge of coming up with relatable stories based on the cards in the deck.

The game fits nicely into the health learning area, or could be used in small, facilitated groups by school guidance counsellors, or pastoral care staff, to meet any specific need – or simply to provide an opportunity for teens to talk about the tough stuff in a safe and supportive environment. Facilitators can use the discussions to delve further into areas that arise out of the scenarios that are played out.

Play Your Best Card was co-designed with teens, secondary school teachers, and youth facilitators.

More information about Play Your Best Card

How to play

In the video below the co-designers introduce what Play Your Best Card is all about.  

“The game has the potential to develop students’ understanding of health issues, how teenagers feel in a variety of situations, and strategies at personal, interpersonal and societal levels to address arising issues. The resource is also a valuable tool for student-centred learning, with student input, discussion and co-operation central to the task.” Rachael Dixon, Co-Chair New Zealand Heath Education Association 

Take a look at the game

The game is designed to be played with between three and 15 players, but can be adapted to work with larger groups, or with the whole class in secondary schools.

“I love that the game gives young people practice at stepping back from a situation, coming up with their own solutions, and critiquing different options. It is really helpful to build these skills and help young people develop their self-efficacy and ability to understand the world from other people’s perspectives.” Ben Birks Ang, National Youth Services Adviser, NZ Drug Foundation and Odyssey

Do no harm

Facilitators and teachers should be familiar with the information in the Facilitators’ Guide before using this game.

It is important that the players feel safe to speak their mind and contribute to discussions. A high level of trust amongst the players and facilitator is key to ensuring robust discussions and the effectiveness of solutions to the challenges.

Before playing the game, we recommend you research the organisations listed on the Actions cards so that you are able to provide more information on the services they provide, if required.

Use Play Your Best Card in your Health Education programme

Play Your Best Card Teaching and Learning Activities for Health Education provides secondary school teachers with a collection of learning activities to link the game with Health and Physical Education in the New Zealand curriculum.

The resource was developed by the New Zealand Health Education Association with funding from the Health Promotion Agency/Te Hiringa Hauora (HPA).

The resource provides:

  • considerations for creating a safe classroom environment and effective pedagogy in health education.
  • 12 teaching and learning activities along with links to health education learning contexts (New Zealand Curriculum (NZC) Level 5), and National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA), Achievement Standards (L1 and L2), and cross-curriculum links where applicable.
  • templates for student activities.
  • links to other useful documents and websites that support learning using Play Your Best Card in health education.

Download Play Your Best Card Teaching and Learning Activities for Health Education [PDF, 4.4MB]


Stage one delivered insights based on the feedback of teachers and counsellors who had received the game.

Detailed feedback from teachers and counsellors at 76 schools and 24 youth organisations was received via an online survey in 2018. The findings from the initial evaluation were extremely positive. Overall, PYBC had been well-received by schools and youth organisations and, based on facilitator feedback, indications were that PYBC is a highly-effective, easy-to-use, relatable resource that can stimulate practical thinking and conversations between young people about key issues linked to mental health and wellbeing. The resource was found to be highly appropriate and considered useful by teachers and counsellors working with young people, with clear potential for delivering positive impacts on young people’s mental health and resilience. 

Read the report

Stage 2 of the evaluation explores the experience of playing the game from the perspective of young people themselves.

The 2019 evaluation research provides evidence of the game’s effectiveness in encouraging young people to have conversations about challenges they might be facing, think critically about situations and problem-solve solutions, as well as know who to reach out to - and how - when they need more support. The findings are positive and indicate the game is popular with young people. When asked what they liked about the game, common themes were the way that the game is designed to get everyone involved and encourage teamwork, the creative thinking and problem solving it requires, and the way that the game is real, relatable and practical. 63% said “the game brought up conversations I wouldn’t usually have had”, 76% “the game brought up creative solutions on how I can help friends having trouble”. More than half reported learning something new as a result of playing it, with many mentioning that they had learnt how to deal with the types of situations presented by the game and come up with solutions to the issues and/or that the game had given them an increased understanding of others and the issues they may be facing. 42% of respondents were introduced to a new support service by playing PYBC. All very positive outcomes for the game.

Read the report

Order Play Your Best Card

Play Your Best Card is designed for those who work with young people on a regular basis eg, teachers, guidance counsellors, youth workers. It's important that those facilitating the game are experienced in working with young people, and have read the Facilitator Guidelines that come with the game.

To order the game, visit our free online shop.

We also encourage you to order the Play Your Best Card take home pamphlets, which can be given out to encourage young people to reflect on their conversations after playing. Replenish your supplies of the pamphlets.

Share Play Your Best Card

We have a range of designs suitable for sharing on social media or in electronic communications. Use the hashtags #pybc and #playyourbestcard 

Download designs