Ministry With Youth by jonlucas

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									Ministry With Youth
Reader for Participants

THE RENAISSANCE PROGRAM Unitarian Universalist Association 2000

Table of Contents
Session 1 Renaissance Module Overview............................................................................................1 Ministry With Youth Renaissance Module Overview.........................................................5 Ministry With Youth Including Those Who Are Different .................................................9 Involve Newsletter: ADHD ..............................................................................................11 Involve Newsletter: Multiple Intelligences ........................................................................22 Welcoming people with disabilities into the YRUU community ......................................28 Session 2 History of Unitarian Universalist Youth Movement .........................................................37 Building Community in Youth Groups..............................................................................39 Balanced Youth Program, SWAFLL Overview ................................................................40 Session 3 Youth Involvement in the Congregation............................................................................55 Intergenerational Programming within Congregations......................................................56 Local Religious Education Committees and Youth Adult Committees ............................56 Communications between Board, Religious Education, and Youth Leadership ...............58 Five Ways to Work Toward Stronger Youth/Adult Congregational Connections ............59 Youth Advisor Selection Process.......................................................................................60 Support for Ministry with Youth .......................................................................................60 Acknowledging Youth Advisors........................................................................................61 Youth Advisor Advisory Committee .................................................................................62 Involving Other Adults in the Youth Programs.................................................................62 Parish Ministers Supporting Youth Advisors ....................................................................63 Pastoral Care for Youth .....................................................................................................63 Networks of Mentors for Youth Advisors .........................................................................64 Session 5 Young Adults and Unitarian Universalissm ......................................................................65 Bridging .............................................................................................................................65 How to Stay Connected .....................................................................................................66 Additional Readings Miracles..............................................................................................................................67 Homily ...............................................................................................................................72 Unreasonable Strength .......................................................................................................73 Supplementary Materials (not in this reader) Local Youth Group Handbook Youth Advisor Handbook How to Be a Con Artist YACS to SACS

RENAISSANCE MODULE OVERVIEW The Renaissance Program is a major component of Unitarian Universalist Religious Education Leadership Development. Each 15-hour module provides basic education in a specific area for Religious Educators in local congregations, and resources for continuing development. Modules focus on Religious Education for all ages, although some may be more geared to a specific age group (example: Ministry With Youth). The modules may be taken in any order: Administration of Religious Education Programs Curriculum Planning in the Local Congregation Developing a Philosophy of Religious Education Ministry with Youth Training Teachers Unitarian Universalist History Unitarian Universalist Identity Worship for All Ages Multicultural Religious Education Participation. Modules can accommodate between 12 and 20 participants. The target audience for Renaissance Modules are Directors of Religious Education, Religious Education Committee Chairpersons, and ministers who are responsible for overseeing Religious Education Programs. Participation in the entire module is required for credit to be received. Each module is an unfolding process. Group dynamics and learning are enhanced when everyone is present for all sessions. The leading Leader does have discretion to allow credit, whether through asking for make-up "homework" to be done, or by other means, but only when a minimal amount of the time has been missed and the part that has been missed is amenable to alternate arrangements. Modules are usually offered on weekends or as part of week-long conferences. Each setting has different characteristics. Weekend modules are intense with a definite momentum; week-long modules allow more time between sessions, but scheduling must consider other conference activities. Neither is "better or worse" than the other, but the settings are different. Recognition. When a participant has completed five modules, or a minimum of 75 hours of Renaissance training, the Renaissance Program Office will send a Letter of Recognition of the time that has been given in continuing education. Additional modules are credited toward completion of a Continuing Education Certificate of Achievement as part of the Landscape Options plan. For the purposes of Renaissance recognition, attendance at a week-long Unitarian Universalist Association Leadership School is counted as one module. The Renaissance Program Office maintains a record of participant attendance at a module based on the returned module evaluation forms. It is important that each participant complete and return an evaluation. Scholarships. It is strongly recommended that congregations give financial sponsorship to a Religious Educator who is attending on their behalf. A limited amount of scholarship help is available from the Unitarian Universalist Association through the Beatley and Earle endowment funds, whose interest is annually available in modest amounts for Religious Education grants to individuals. Some District Religious Education Committees have funds available for Renaissance scholarships. Summer conferences may offer financial assistance. Resource: For more information on Renaissance Modules, including the Planning Guide and Request Form, see the web page at


COMPONENTS OF THE RENAISSANCE PROGRAM Following is a discussion of learning activities used in Renaissance Modules to address the various ways that people learn. These notations are in alphabetical order. Participants will experience activities, and obtain tools, practices and skills that can be used in their own setting. Brainstorming starts a flow of ideas around a specific topic or question. This is a quick way to verbalize ideas as they are given by the participants. The guidelines for brainstorming include: • Record (usually on newsprint) words/phrases as given, without editing and even if the word has been given before. • Let the brainstorming continue until an agreed-to time limit has been reached or the flow of ideas has greatly diminished or ended. • The brainstorming can be hung up in the room as a reference. People are invited to add to the listing as new ideas arise. • If the content is to be used further, group the thoughts by common topics. Covenant for Our Time Together is a time to consider guidelines to make the module a safe learning experience. This can be done by brainstorming or by using this sample covenant. This covenant provides guidelines for a safe learning environment. To that end, let us covenant together. CONFIDENTIALITY: We need safety with the group. What we say in the group discussions and with each other will be held in confidence and within the confines of this module. RESPECT: We need to feel that we can share our deep concerns, mistakes, and fears, as well as our joys and triumphs. It is important to be able to speak without anyone making judgments and/or criticizing what was said or done. We honor the worth and dignity of each person and celebrate our diversity of background, lifestyles, and spiritual paths. PRIVACY: It is important that we be able to “pass". When we choose to pass, no explanation needs to be given. A simple statement of “I pass” or “I am not ready to speak” is sufficient. There are times when an experience or feeling is not ready to be shared aloud. BOUNDARIES help to create safety and freedom for us to work successfully. Attention to time boundaries includes an agreement to start on time and remain until the agreed-upon ending time, and to let one of the leaders know if we have to leave for any reason. We also acknowledge and honor our differing needs, ways of relating, and ways of learning. To this end, we covenant with one another for our time together. Blessed Be.


Diversity of participants is a dynamic feature of the Renaissance Modules that enhances the learning experience and requires intentional consideration of making the experience inclusive. Inclusivity in language requires a focus on terms that we use. We communicate a great deal about we feel about a topic, and we communicate with people who are not religious educators and who come from differing backgrounds. Therefore, inclusive language is a way of honoring our values and each other. Use "Unitarian Universalist" rather than either one separately (except in historical context). Our faith tradition is rich because of the contributions of both of the historic denominations. Use full names for groups rather than the initials or abbreviations, such as "Unitarian Universalist" rather than "UU"; "Young Religious Unitarian Universalists" rather than "YRUU"; "Director of Religious Education" rather than "DRE". The language of the modules and writings are gender inclusive, except for quotes that may be used, a common example of which is the use of the male gender previously assumed by some to be inclusive. Language also needs to be inclusive related to racial and ethnic background, age, and ability, and life situations. For example, when referring to an individual or group, acknowledge the person or group, and add the adjective only if needed to understanding the communication. For example, use "child with special needs" rather than "special needs child." Discuss facts and situation without assuming that "everyone is like me." For example, the life situations of participants will probably include various ages and experiences in religious education, various configurations of families, and economic conditions. What might be "obvious" or "logical" to one person may not be to another. It is suggested that there be a newsprint sheet for terms that need explanation. Inclusivity in the learning environment requires the attention of all participants to Clarity of speech and awareness of hearing ability; Sensitivity to environmental odors (perfumes, for example); Mobility requirements and possible modifications needed in some of the activities. Groups of various configurations are used throughout the module, from total group activities, to activities in dyads (two people), triads (three people) and other small groups. Sometimes the groups will be selected at random, and sometimes based on specific interests. Guided meditation/visualization helps participants to take visualize a particular event or situation as a way of raising awareness of feelings around the situation. Guidelines include: Inviting people to get into a comfortable position in which they can relax, so that the focus is not on how parts of the body feel (unless that is the focus of the meditation/visualization!). Inviting people to go only as far into the guided meditation/visualization as is comfortable. People can stop the meditation whenever they like by moving or opening their eyes. Letting people know whether they will be invited to share their experience or feelings about the experience before the meditations/visualization start. Sharing is not always expected, as the meditation also sets the stage for discussion of topic.


Journaling provides a way for participants to capture their thoughts and feelings about specific topics or activities within the module, and to explore the things that they are learning. The journaling is for the participant only. Newsprint pages will be hanging in the meeting room, such as pages for participants to indicate topics that they want to have covered, or questions, or additional resources. Pages will also be generated during the module. Reader. Depending on the Renaissance Module, the Reader may be a book, a collection of materials -- or both. It is designed to include material that will be used during the Module. Resources: Each module has a display box that contains pertinent publications that may be reviewed during the module. In addition, leaders and participants are invited to bring items related to the module theme that they would like to share. Please identify the owner on each the item, and a sign-out process is recommended if items are being taken from the space in which the module is being given. Shared parts include leading energy breaks, games, singing, openings and closings, and readings. These are at the discretion of the leaders. These may be materials in the module itself or invitations for participants to contribute. Time. There will never be enough time to have all of the discussion that we want to have on the respective topics. There will be times when the Leaders ask you to move on to the next activity. While there is suggested timing for the various parts of a module, and the Leaders can make some alterations as needed. However, it is expected that the content that is in the module will be available to the participants. That's it!!!!!!!




(caring for and about, being attentive to; deserving our caring, thought, prayer) WITH (mutual ministry, theology of equity in power relations)


(focus on junior and senior high)

The philosophy of this module is that youth will be ministered to by Unitarian Universalist congregations when they are respected as community members. As youth are empowered to be full members of Unitarian Universalist communities, both they and the communities will be strengthened: “power shared is power multiplied.” Youth empowerment does not mean that adults are dis-empowered or should abdicate responsibility. It is not either/or. Youth empowerment means that the more empowered youth are as youth, the more appropriately empowered adults will be as adults. The following illustrations from Meg Riley♦ involves two year olds but describes empowerment. I was riding the bus one day, and a young mother got on with her two-year-old daughter. Two year olds deal with some of the same developmental tasks as adolescents, especially dependence vs. independence. This two year old did not want to sit on the seat with her mother. She wanted to stand on the seat by herself. She squealed with anger when her mother tried to hold her. So her mother got behind her on the next seat and sat, ready to grab her if the bus jerked or stopped suddenly, but the mother let the child stand on her own. The daughter was DELIGHTED with herself. She began to grin boldly and proudly at the passengers. Most of us could not resist grinning boldly back at her. Soon the entire bus was full of grinning people. By the time the bus came to my stop, I felt extremely powerful and happy. I literally bounced off the bus and down my street. What happened on that bus? The power of the two-year-old girl, because her mother supported it rather than challenged it, grew to fill all of us on the bus! Power shared in power multiplied! Contrast that with another experience I had. I was riding an airplane, sitting behind a father with a girl, the same age, trying the same thing. She did not want to be sitting in her seat but wanted to stand on her own and look at the other passengers, testing her own power. Unfortunately, her father did not support this power and was apparently threatened by it. He pulled her down and yelled, grabbed her and, while covering her mouth with his hand, squeezed and yelled into her ear! The little girl's power was diminished. So was my own. I felt extremely miserable sitting near this family, and the other people around me felt the same way. Several of us tried to intervene with statements like, "It's fine. We like her to lean over our seats!" but they did not help. Finally, in pain and despair, I moved my seat so that I did not have to endure the situation. What happened? Power denied to one person is power denied to all! Unfortunately, the paradigm of the second child rules our culture. We experience power as something that people wield over each other. Therefore, to discuss this module about youth empowerment is threatening to many of us. Does this mean I will no longer have power as an adult? What does it mean? We need to take those fears seriously and share them with each other.

Meg Riley was previously Director of the Youth Office, and an author of the original Ministry With Youth Renaissance Module in 1992. This is taken from the Overview in the 1992 edition.


This Module is one of three educational programs related to youth programming in the Unitarian Universalist Association. The theme of youth empowerment is critical to all three programs. These have different target participants, but all are related and complement each other. To this end, some resources will be used with more than one program. Program Ministry With Youth Renaissance Module Focus/Description While this module is relevant to people working with youth in various capacities, including youth advisors, this module is: directly focused on the education of the people supporting the advisors. congregation-oriented rather than focused on district- or clusterlevel youth ministry. This grew from the belief that it is the congregations that are central to the religious experience of Unitarian Universalists. concerned with youth programming as part of the total life of the congregation. concerned with youth programming as part of the total life of the congregation. While this includes working within a congregation, the focus is on the specific activities and responsibilities of youth advisors. The focus is providing support, information and experiences for youth to take leadership roles at the congregational, district, and continental levels.

Youth Advisor Training Youth Leadership Development

The report Proposals for Change: Youth Advisor Task Force Recommendations, 2000 (Unitarian Universalists) gives the philosophical basis for the programs, as follows (from p.1-2) Youth programming is reflective of Unitarian Universalism as a faith. It is structured differently from the youth programming of other faiths because it is founded upon the Unitarian Universalist Principles and Purposes. Our youth programs are communities in which youth live by our Principles; respecting the inherent dignity and worth of all people, advocating for the democratic process, and promoting social activism in our congregations and throughout our Association. The free and responsible search for truth and meaning is a core piece of the life of teens, and youth community focuses deeply on the interdependent web. Youth advisors have a special role in this movement. It is widely recognized that most of our growth comes from families with children. Some of these families will leave our congregations unless they see a strong, healthy youth program into which their children can grow. If one-half of our youth today remain active Unitarian Universalists as adults, our denomination will grow by 15-20% over the next ten years. In raising funds for growth a few years ago, several districts found that youth programming was a key issue that inspired people to give. Congregations have found that when they highlight how, as Rev. Joel Miller of Columbine Unitarian Universalist Church in Littleton, CO, said at the Opening Celebration at General Assembly 1999, "... lives (are) saved by Unitarian Universalist heroes — by our youth group advisors who have sustained our youth programs, and brought hope and meaning where there was none." Every member of our task force has experienced this truth: our youth programs save lives.


Youth who go through our youth programs and conferences have a very different view, in some ways, of what Unitarian Universalism is and can be. We must respect and include that perspective in how we all practice our faith, whether we are adult converts, raised Unitarian Universalist without any Young Religious Unitarian Universalists (YRUU) involvement, or YRUU veterans. Many of the congregational, district, and continental leaders of the Unitarian Universalist movement developed their faith and commitment to our principles from within our youth programs. Yet so many others leave our faith after high school. One youth told us, "I'm a UU, a YRUU Unitarian Universalist. I just cannot find a UU church of people that live our UU principles in the way that we did in YRUU." Much has been said of the lack of young adults in our congregations, and much has been done to work to change that sad loss. We feel that quality youth advisors can, if trained and supported well, serve as an important bridge to the congregation, not only creating a sense of belonging for youth, but also a sense of ownership by the congregation at large. The Youth Advisor Task Force believes that our youth are an amazing and important part of our congregations and denomination. We often hear that youth are the future of our faith. That is true whether or not they remain a part of our faith, for when they leave we all lose their unique insight into what it means to be Unitarian Universalist. Yet youth also are the present of our faith. They are Unitarian Universalist leaders, congregants, and worshipers. They are in our congregations already, and we cannot wait until they are older to make them feel welcome. Youth advisors need support in creating that feeling of connection and belonging.


Thoughts from Unitarian Universalist youth advisors from about the continent (collected by the Youth Advisor Task Force, 2000): Most youth don't really need advice. They need a nonjudgmental ear and unconditional positive regard. They don't need or want you to tell them what to do. Just listen to them. Of course, don't expect that they will recognize [your help] anytime soon, or that you will see dramatic or immediate results, because they won't, and you won't. You are investing for the long term. [The youth advisor is] not the "leader" of the youth group. The youth are the leaders. I'm of a mind that it's sometimes better that something fail and the youth have to ask themselves where they went wrong, than for me to take over. YRUU is about giving teens a chance to develop life skills, and they won't do that if adults are there to catch them all the time. I cannot express in words the joy and fulfillment that it has brought to our lives to work with the youth. As we have tried to help them find their way in the world on their journey to adulthood, they have helped us find ours. Albert Einstein set forth quite a challenge when he stated "The only rational way of educating is to be an example." Well, we have tried to make our lives an example for the youth, and it has transformed us in ways we never imagined. Why do I do this work? It's transformational. It's fun. It's challenging. It's invigorating. It's hard. It's spiritual. The Reader includes excerpts from Proposals for Change: Youth Advisor Task Force Recommendations, 2000, primarily discussion around issues and recommendations that apply to congregations in the broad context of youth programming. The full report is being sent to congregations, and study of the report is urged on congregational, district, and continental levels. (See copy in display box.)


MINISTRY TO ALL YOUTH INCLUDING THOSE WHO ARE DIFFERENT By Sally Patton 290 Highland Avenue, Winchester, MA 08190, e-mail at (web page at By welcoming children with special needs into our congregations, we welcome the divine into our hearts. I like what the words ministry to our youth conveys. Ministry, as it is so eloquently described in this Renaissance module, means care, thought, love, and prayer. And for us it means ministry to all youth, including those with special needs or those experiencing life difficulties. This attitude of inclusiveness is communicated through out this training module and therefore ministry to youth with special needs is implicit in the message being conveyed. However, it is important to pay particular attention to what it means to minister to youth who are struggling with a special need or disability beyond the “normal” struggles of adolescence. It is more often than not the youth with special needs who is labeled the misfit, who has the most difficult time fitting in, and who can be the most disruptive. As stated, ministry to youth is a challenging journey. It is our youth with special needs who can challenge us the most. Envisioning ministry to youth with special needs is integral to Meg Riley’s∗ empowerment model. She states, “Power denied to one person is power denied to all.” This is so true with youth with special needs, many of whom have learned failure early and have been ridiculed so that their self-esteem is extremely low. As Ms. Riley states, when we empower our youth, we empower everyone. A feeling of empowerment has a positive energy that is felt by all who come into contact with it. Helping to empower youth with special needs in the youth group empowers the whole group. Ministry to our youth involves a vision that includes honoring everyone’s differences, special needs, and gifts. A youth group that can be inclusive of youth with special needs is one that can create an atmosphere where youth feel comfortable talking about their gifts, differences, and struggles. One youth who is clearly different and struggling and who may also be disruptive, needs to hear the stories of other youth and needs them to hear his or her story as well. If there is a youth with a specific disability in the group, then do not ignore that disability. The youth group leader should talk to the youth with special needs to find ways for him or her to share with the other youth about what it means to him or her to be visually or hearing impaired, to be dyslexic, to be hyperactive, to be depressed or bipolar, to be in a wheel chair, to have tourette’s or asperger’s syndromes, to have diabetes, or epilepsy, to be different. The youth may want to have someone else, a parent or professional, talk to the youth group while he or she is absent or he or she may want to do it in person. Youth have a great capacity to understand how hard it is to be different because it is so important for them to fit in some place. Sometimes a youth with special needs can be disruptive. This youth must be held accountable for honoring the guidelines of caring behavior in a group that, in turn, will help that youth to honor him or her self. But people must feel heard in order for them to understand.


Meg Riley was previously Director of the Youth Office, and is presently with the Washington Office for Faith in Action, Unitarian Universalist Association.


Building opportunities for the youth to help others is often the most effective way to minister to youth with special needs who have low self-esteem. The opportunity to care for, or be responsible for, another, can be a powerful lesson in understanding and building confidence in oneself. It also helps in creating community and realizing that we are all connected. The Involve Newsletter is a product of a Unitarian Universalist Funding Program grant to provide information and resources to Religious Educators concerning special needs children. Two issues of the newsletter are included in this Reader: ADHD: In our Unitarian Universalist churches, hyperactive youth are often the ones we have the most difficulty serving. Multiple Intelligences (MI ): The MI theory may spark a discussion about what it means to think and learn in multiple ways that may be different from what is traditionally taught in schools and can help youth understand themselves and others. As Brett Webb-Mitchell writes in his book, Dancing with Disabilities: Opening the Church to All God's Children (paperback 1997), people with disabilities in our society are abused in so many ways - institutionally, socially, and emotionally. I hope that we can avoid adding spiritual abuse to the list. Starting early with our children and youth, providing a place in church where they are safe and accepted may be giving them the only place they can experience total acceptance. As a mother once said to me, “If I can’t bring my special needs son to church, where can I bring him?”


A Newsletter of the RE Learning Differences Project
January, 2000 Newsletter Five: Attention Deficit (Hyperactive) Disorder (ADD/ADHD)

Alone There is a place where we all go when we must sit alone: A place where the birds are free to fly, A place where the sun and its flowers bow in shadow, A place where the fog is like a veil and everything is protected, A place where our souls are set free and we are allowed to play our own song. Samantha Abeel (A 15 year old girl with LD)


ost children with Attention Deficit (Hyperactive) Disorder (ADD/ADHD) have never been allowed to ‘play their own song.’ Most have never experienced the freedom to fly and explore while being protected at the same time. These are children that learn very young they are different from all the other children. They learn early that they are different and that they can disrupt, control and cause fear in well-meaning adults. Even with concerned and loving parents, many learn early to hate themselves because no matter how hard they try, they do not fit in because they have difficulty controlling their impulsive and distracting behavior. If they also have a learning disability, then they receive a double whammy of misunderstanding and negative reinforcement. Total withdrawal or getting into trouble becomes preferable to being thought of as dumb. One young woman was able to explain her experience after receiving some help and attending a special college program: “I think that when I was born, I was put in a rocket ship and taken to another planet—earth. I never felt that I was like anyone else here. From the time I was five, I can recall feeling like an outsider. I first remember feeling like an alien when I tried to communicate. People would raise their eyebrows and make other facial expressions of confusion when I tried to express myself. ........ Constant rejection created feelings of isolation and isolation created anger and anger created self-defeat” (From The Misunderstood Child, Larry B. Silver, M.D.) The majority of us in UU religious education have experienced at one time or another, children who we identify as ADD/ADHD. They are often the children that we have the most difficulty serving. If there is consistent disruptive behavior in an RE program, it is usually from a child who has been diagnosed as ADD/ADHD. These are the children that will make volunteer parent/leaders decide to never lead another RE group. These are the children that the other children will often shun and be understandably upset by their behavior. I am aware that working with these children only one day a week for an hour precludes churches being the place of primary intervention and services, nor do we have extensive resources from which to draw to help with our efforts. However, I do believe that we can have a significant impact on ADD/ADHD children’s self esteem by providing that sacred place where the children can feel protected and free to explore their own potential, if only for an hour. So how do we do this? How do we minister to over active children while tending to the needs of all the children? How do we create a nurturing place for all children so that no child will feel like an “outsider”? One of the first things we can do is become more knowledgeable about what ADD/ADHD actually is, so we can move beyond the label of ADD/ADHD. In the first article, “ADD/ADHD, What is it?", I will give an overview of the current views concerning ADD/ADHD. Just understanding why these children


act the way that they do can free us from harmful judgements and allow for empathy and creative solutions. In the next article, “My God, We Have an Epidemic” will explore some of the controversial moral, ethical and spiritual issues involved in the diagnosis and treatment of ADD/ADHD children and how this affects our behavior toward these children. In “Practical Strategies for Working with ADD/ADHD Children in RE Ministry”, I have attempted to describe some proven techniques used by teachers and therapists which I think can be useful for RE parent/leaders. I will also briefly review some ideas shared in past newsletters that have been suggested by religious educators. And finally, I will list some resources for further research.

ADD/ADHD, What is it?


r. Edward M. Hallowell and Dr. John J Ratey are two of the foremost experts and leaders in defining and treating people with ADD. (For the purposes of this discussion, I will use ADD to signify both forms of the disorder, with and without hyperactivity.) They describe ADD as follows. “ADD is a neurological syndrome whose classic defining triad of symptoms include impulsivity, distractibility, and hyperactivity or excess energy. About 15 million Americans have it today; most of them do not know that they have it. The condition occurs in children and adults, men and women, boys and girls, and it cuts across all ethnic groups, socioeconomic strata, levels of education, and degrees of intelligence. ...... ADD is not a learning disability or a language disability or dyslexia, and it is not associated with low intelligence.” This sounds like a straightforward definition, but it is not. Many of us at times in our lives have been impulsive, distracted and hyperactive. Many people consider themselves ADD with only one or two of the symptoms and not necessarily the same ones as another person with ADD. There are many problems children can have which can cause any of the three symptoms, such as: depression, bipolar disorder, a dysfunctional family situation, poor nutrition, etc. In order to aid in identifying ADD, several clinicians have developed a diagnostic checklist. But this does not always work either. When following one of these checklists, my dyslexic son looks like he is also ADD, but his ADD tendencies may be the result of his learning disability, although I can not be sure. To complicate matters, ADD occurs more frequently among dyslexic people than in the population at large. (Dr. Larry Silver estimates that 20% of learning disabled (LD) children are also ADD.) As Thom Hartmann, an ADD specialist, simply states it “ADD is not all-or-nothing diagnosis. There appears to be a curve of behaviors and personality types, ranging from extremely-non-ADD to extremely-ADD.”

Diagnosis is also very difficult because ADD people, who have been untreated, develop other severe problems as a result, which often masks the underlying ADD. There is increasing awareness and increasing research to show that there is a very high incidence of drug and alcohol abuse among untreated people with ADD. ADD can also go undiagnosed because it is masked by severe depression and anxiety which has been caused by inattention to the problems caused by the ADD. There is also the issue that we are over-diagnosing boys as ADD when they are just being very active. There is also the issue that we are not diagnosing girls with ADD because they have learned better how to mask their symptoms and often not as much is expected of them in school. I mention all of this because as religious educators we need to be very careful about our assumptions when working with overly active or spacey or disruptive children. We also need to work carefully with the parents of the over-active child. Sometimes they are very knowledgeable and sometimes they have tried everything and have received incorrect information from the “professionals”. I know of a boy now in his teens, from a loving concerned family that consistently sought professional advice about their son with little results. By the time they received a diagnosis of ADD, their son was already addicted to drugs and had finally dropped out of school. However, a friend with ADD said to me, “Once you know what ADD is then you intuitively know when you see it in someone else.” There is a lot of truth in that statement and we know about these children in our religious education programs. Sometimes the parents will tell you and sometimes it is obvious. Rick Lavoie, is head of a school for ADD/LD boys on the Cape. He is a wonderfully compassionate, insightful professional who is also ADD and I think provides some of the best thinking about how to work with


ADD children. The following overview of his understanding and approach to working with ADD children has been compiled from one of his daylong workshops. People with ADD are constantly looking for stimulation and if they can not find stimulation they will create it. Understanding only this will help tremendously when planning for the RE session so that there is always some activity in which an ADD child can participate. It is a misconception to say that ADD children have low attention spans. The child with no attention span pays attention to nothing while the ADD distractible child pays attention to everything. Thom Hartmann, an ADD specialist, says that a better way to describe the distractibility of ADD is to describe it as scanning. They notice everything so that they are constantly bombarded with stimuli. For example, a child in an RE program will hear all the noises going on inside the room as well as outside; they will notice what the parent/leader is wearing while they are talking and that their hair is combed differently from last week; they will notice a spider crawling across the ceiling and they will give all this stimuli equal importance. As a result, they are poor at selective attention, which can also lead to impulsivity. Rick Lavoie characterizes ADD children’s impulsivity as “ready, fire, aim. ADD children do not have consequential thoughts so that they appear very reckless and often thoughtless. ADD children handle all life problems less effectively than their peers. They are more likely to get into trouble, more likely to get caught and more likely to respond to the wrong stimuli when confronted with their misdeed so that they get stiffer punishment. It appears to be misbehavior, but it is part of their automatic functioning. Most children learn an inhibitor response that says “think it but don’t say it”. With ADD children they say what immediately comes to mind. Punishment does nothing but create anxiety because the ADD child does not understand why they are so different and why they act the way that they do. ADD children with a learning disability also have performance inconsistency, in other words they have good and bad days. When they have good days they often feel guilty because they do not understand why they can not always do it right. As a result, they begin to feel that no matter how hard they work, they will still screw up. They begin to think that life is a “crap shoot”. This creates intense anxiety. ADD/LD children are usually anxious not depressed. Depressed people worry about the past while anxious people worry about the future. This can be extraordinarily debilitating. High anxiety inhibits being able to listen, to learn, and to act. For children who are already struggling, this can cause intense stress. An RE ministry which incorporates meditation techniques and getting in touch with the sacred can be enormously beneficial for helping these children reduce stress. A major myth associated with ADD and LD children is that if they only tried harder they would do better. The truth is, according to Lavoie, “If they only did better, they’d try harder!” Children need to know what it feels like to succeed in order to work more diligently. Dr. Bob Brooks who works with appositionally defiant children says that children need to develop an “island of confidence”. (Some of Dr. Brooks philosophy and techniques are discussed in the second issue of the Involve newsletter on discipline.) ADD and LD children rarely get this opportunity; they are routinely deprived of success. In school, they are rarely praised and they are constantly being asked to do activities that are difficult for them. They are rarely asked to participate in activities that they can do, so they never have the chance to succeed or receive positive recognition. Imagine what this does to a child’s self esteem and willingness to keep trying. In our RE ministry we can create opportunities for these children to succeed and receive recognition for their success. We can help create that “island of confidence” for all our children, “A place where our souls are set free and we are allowed to play our own song.”


My God, We Have An Epidemic!
“And so we train our young. We reinforce and strengthen in them those behaviors, assumptions, and beliefs that we find useful as a society, and we discourage or crush in them those that are not useful or even counterproductive to the orderly flow of our culture and its work.” Thom Hartmann, Attention Deficit Disorder, A Different Perception t seems as if the diagnosis of ADD has swept across the nation bringing upset and confusion with it. A conservative estimate is that between 3% to 5% of American children have been diagnosed with ADD. It is also intriguing to consider that ADD appears to be a phenomenon of western countries. Thom Hartmann believes that the reason we are seeing more ADD children in school is because under funding and teacher over-load and over-work are causing these children to be noticed. In large classrooms with increasing pressure to teach standardized material, teachers no longer have the opportunity or time to work creatively with children with learning differences. Because ADD children are primarily visual not auditory learners, they become bored easily and begin to act out, so teachers begin to believe that there is something wrong with the children. “It’s both convenient and useful to label, blame, and medicate students rather than paying to teach them.”


On the opposite end of this belief are the people who feel that ADD does not really exist but is simply the latest excuse for parents who do not discipline their children. According to the organization, CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder), scientific research tells us ADD is a biologically-based disorder that can be inherited and may be due to an imbalance of neurotransmitters– chemicals used by the brain to control behavior– or abnormal glucose metabolism in the central nervous system. While this explanation may confirm that ADD is not a myth, it does not explain why we have ADD people in our gene pool. I have believed for many years that people’s brains are different for a reason; that all of us have different skills and aptitudes and that all these differences are necessary if this world is to solve our problems and survive. The more I have worked with and learned about ADD and LD children the more I have come to feel that there is something terribly wrong in the way we understand, treat and teach children whom we call “different”. In the first Involve newsletter, I talk about how being more welcoming to children with learning differences can free us as religious educators to think outside the box and be more creative with ourselves and with all children. I still whole-heartedly believe this and since writing that newsletter, I have discovered three professionals whose philosophies help support my belief, Rita Kirsch Debroitner, Avery Hart and Thom Hartmann. (Please see resources for a list of their books.) These people’s ideas are liberating, compassionate and hopeful and provide a basis for working with ADD children in a constructive and loving way. Dr. Rita Kirsch Debroitner and Ms. Avery Hart in their book, Moving Beyond ADD/ADHD, develop a non-traditional holistic approach to working with ADD children which focuses on the dynamic of the family and changing our own perceptions and behavior in order to change the dysfunctional and disruptive behavior of ADD children. Thom Hartmann in several books, but particularly in Attention Deficit Disorder, A Different Perception, provides a totally new, revolutionary paradigm for understanding ADD, which leads to new insights and creative ideas that will benefit all people. I will use these peoples’ ideas for focusing this article’s discussion on some of the controversial moral, ethical and spiritual issues involved in the diagnosis and treatment of ADD/ADHD children and how this affects our behavior toward these children. The Hunter/Farmer Model So what is this thing called ADD and where did it come from? Thom Hartmann in many of his books thoroughly explains his hunter/farmer model that he feels answers this question. I can not give as thorough an explanation in this short article, so I urge you to read his books if you have an interest in


ADD. Hartmann posits that ADD is a vestigial survival mechanism handed down to us from our hunter/gatherer ancestors. “ADD, I argued, is something that was once an adaptive psychological and physiological mechanism providing our hunter/gatherer ancestors with an edge over the world in which they lived. Their distractibility was actually a continual scan for danger or opportunity in the world of the forest or jungle, their sense of doom was a hypervigilance that protected them from predators or enemy warriors. Their impulsivity eliminated the problem of indecisiveness which could cause them to miss out on a meal if they were busy doing a task while something edible ran by; their seeking out of sensation and risk facilitated their hunt, leading them into areas where food could be found (along with the other predators also attracted by that food).” So what happened to the hunter/gatherer societies? For about 6 million years our ancestors were hunters and then the agricultural revolution began and farmer societies were created and flourished, one reason being that farming is a more efficient means of producing food than hunting. More food being produced allowed for the population to grow and for people to develop different disciplines, which led to new discoveries including better weapons of war. Those people with the Farmer-like patience to grow crops evolved into the farming and eventually industrial societies and eliminated the impulsive, sensationseeking Hunters among them. (I highly recommend the book, Guns, Germs and Steel, by Jared Diamond as an excellent explanation of how human societies evolved and or disappeared.) Hartmann concludes that ADD is part of our genetic heritage and therefore should not be viewed as a disorder. We are still attempting to rid ourselves of the hunters among us by telling our ADD children that there is something wrong with them, by medicating them and by forcing them into school systems that do not appreciate their skills and gifts so they are labeled as dysfunctional. Hartmann, however, sees the hunter people as keeping our society from ossifying. Hunters are often our entrepreneurs, our leaders and risk takers and most creative people. He sees the Farmer/Hunter model as a continuum so that people “who are almost pure Hunters are classified as classic ADD and individuals who are almost pure Farmers are classified as slow, careful, methodical, and, sometimes, boring. .... Accepting the idea that there’s probably a bell curve to these behaviors, though, we can posit a norm which incorporates both Hunter and Farmer behaviors, with swings in both directions on either side of the center line.” This helps explain the difficulty in diagnosing ADD because many of us incorporate both farmer and hunter characteristics. What does this Hunter/Farmer model do for our treatment of ADD children? For one thing it stops us from putting the blame on the child or treating the child as if they were flawed in some way. To tell a child that they have a disorder and that they are damaged is terribly destructive to their self-esteem. To tell a child that their personality traits are well adapted for some areas but they may experience difficulties in other areas leaves their self-esteem in tact. In fact, there may be some areas in which ADD children are more successful and functional than their peers without ADD. We should be nurturing the positive aspects of their uniqueness at home, in school and in our RE programs, instead of concentrating on what is wrong with them. I recognize that ADD children and their parents (and ADD adults) are often relieved to have the diagnosis of ADD because it usually replaces years of guilt and misunderstanding with an explanation and a direction for treatment. However, the Hunter/Farmer model provides a way to see people as different instead of having a disorder. It may not be important to prove the Hunter/Farmer model scientifically because the model provides a way to deal with a condition that leaves the self-esteem of children in tact and therefore is more empowering than the medical model that says there is something wrong with these children. (There is beginning to be growing evidence from scientists to support this model.) In the next article, I will describe ways in which the Hunter/Farmer model can help us in working with ADD children in our RE ministry. The Holistic Model Debroitner and Hart believe that a holistic model more accurately reflects the true nature of ADD. They maintain that the scientific research does not support evidence of a neurological impairment or a biological cause for ADD, which is why there is no definitive test for ADD. They maintain that


ADD/ADHD “is not a dysfunction of the central nervous system, but it is a condition of imbalance, or disharmony, on a dynamic, mind-body level. .... Whatever its causes, ADD is a departure from the natural core–that grounded, centered level of being that is our human birthright. ... In our professional practice, we have found that the physical aspects of ADD/ADHD are connected to an inability to be at the center of one’s own experience. People with attention deficit tend to be speeded up, alienated from themselves and their experience at the most fundamental level of being. They are therefore unable to use their energy properly and function effectively. Uncentered, they cannot ‘make sense’ of what their sense are telling them. This, in turn, can lead to social problems that make for excess frustration in living. Treating ADD/ADHD as a whole system makes sense, for we are far more than the sum of our parts–be they biological, physical, emotional, or social. To be fully healthy, we must be whole.” Debroitner and Hart spend much of their book describing the codependent relationships that develop in a family with an ADD child. Their treatment involves having the parents or the ADD adult become healthy themselves and in so doing, their relationship with their ADD child changes and becomes more positive, thus helping the ADD child to also change. They view this change as a life spiritual journey and they provide many concrete techniques for doing this. The area of most interest to me was their view that the most negative aspect of the use of the drug Ritalin to control the behavior of an ADD child is on the child’s self-identity. “When children are given medication to help them correct their behavior, the unspoken conclusion they draw is that there is something ‘wrong’ with them, or that they have some kind of deep, internal deficiency or defect.” Debroitner and Avery then discuss alternative to drugs such as vitamin supplements, breathing techniques and bio feed- back. I mention this because we need to be careful about what policies our churches develop concerning the need for the child to be on medication while at church. We are not in the position to advocate one way or the other for children to take or not take Ritalin. However, if the parents of an ADD child are very concerned about medicating their child with a toxic drug that is a derivative of cocaine and are trying alternative methods, then I feel we need to support them in their position. As I have become more knowledgeable about this issue, I have heard of many parents who have successfully helped their child’s hyperactive or impulsive behavior through good nutrition and vitamin supplements. There is also some evidence to suggest that there is a biochemical reason why so many ADD children have a craving for sugar, which may also have a connection with why they are so high risk to become addicted to drugs. Just getting a child off of so many sugary foods and eliminating their hypoglycemia can make an immense positive difference in their behavior. I have seen this with my own son. I also realize that this does not work for all children and sometimes Ritalin provides relief in an intolerable situation. This is an area that needs much more research, but I agree with Debroitner and Avery that there is a negative impact on a child’s self esteem, which can not be ignored. Medication can also stifle the creative impulse that seems so much a part of many ADD people. (Thomas Edison is a classic example of a person with ADD. Many experts feel (including Edison himself) that if his impulsivity and constant ability to go off in many different directions at once had been curbed by medication, he would never have invented the light bulb.) And, I also agree with Debroitner and Avery that just medicating the child does not allow for healing, unless the family dynamics are also addressed. We need to be very careful about making the decision to medicate children who are most at risk to become substance abusers later in life. Vision I feel that both Hartmann’s and Debroitner and Avery’s theories concerning ADD children as helpful in creatively thinking “ outside of the box” in our working with ADD children. In the next article, I will discuss some of their ideas and techniques, which I think can be helpful as we work with ADD children in our RE ministry. In many ways, I find the two theories complimentary. Hartmann is suggesting an unconventional way to look at ADD, which can instigate innovative ways to work with these children. Debroitner and Avery provide a holistic, mind body approach, which can incorporate the idea, that ADD children are hunter children trying to exist in a farmer world. Hunters learning how to find their center in a farmer’s world is critical for actively taking charge of and designing their own lives and living a life of joy and fulfillment.


I would like to end with some of Hartmann’s vision from his book, Beyond ADD. “This view of ADD (Hunter/Farmer model and I would also add Debroitner and Avery’s view) implies that ADD may not be a disorder or disease. It may simply be a normal variation of human behavior that, during the tens or hundreds of thousands of years of human history, has been more or less useful. At the heyday of the agricultural and industrial revolutions, with their armies and pesticides and destruction of natural environments becoming more anachronistic, it may be that ADD is again useful. And, as there is more ADD-like behavior, more people tune into the ADD Morphogenic field–leading to even more ADD. Solution? Maybe this isn’t a problem, but a solution for the future of the world in and of itself.” To that, I say Amen.


Practical Strategies for Working with ADD/ADHD Children in RE Ministry
During my extensive reading and research, I came across many ideas for working with ADD people in the school and work settings. Many of the ideas can be adapted for the RE program. I will discuss these ideas according to the ADD specialist that makes the suggestion. I will also include some ideas that have been tried by some UU churches. Rick Lavoie I found Rick Lavoie’s techniques for teaching and working with ADD children very insightful and helpful. His methods are used in his school and are for ADD boys who also have a significant learning disability. He is in great demand as a speaker and lectures all over the country. He prefers that teachers concentrate on preventative discipline and being pro-active rather than relying on possible negative intervention methods. However, he does recognize that sometimes discipline methods are necessary. Lavoie feels that the anxiety that these children carry around with them is very debilitating and often prevents them from being able to learn. He works with them to identify when they are over-stressed and uses an image of a beaker that overflows when it reaches its capacity and one more drop of liquid is added. Because these children’s beaker is almost always full, it sometimes only takes a minor incident for their beaker to overflow. He teaches them to recognize their stress level and other people’s stress level and when they explode they can visualize that their beaker was full. Because ADD children are visual thinkers, providing a picture of what is happening with their anxiety can be very helpful for them in dealing with it. This also helps in understanding that sometimes an ADD child is fine at church and sometimes it takes only a small incident for them to explode. Using the beaker image, the parent/leader in the RE session can ask the ADD child, when they arrive, how their morning has been so far and how full is their beaker. This will help them monitor their own behavior and alert the parent/leader as to what to expect from their behavior. This method eliminates blame and creates trust and also empowers the child to be an active participant in understanding and controlling his or her own behavior. It is important to remember for all children, but particularly for ADD children, that: “Positive reinforcement changes behavior. Negative reinforcement only stops behavior.” Lavoie maintains that punishment never changes behavior. Sometimes the techniques for stopping disruptive behavior end up being punitive because it is difficult for parent/leaders to always think fast in the heat of the moment and most parent/leaders are not trained as many teachers are. Time outs should only be used to remove a child from receiving positive reinforcement for disruptive behavior. For example, a child kicks another child under the table and his peers think it is terribly funny. Using a time out in this situation removes the child from the positive reinforcement of laughter. Rick Lavoie suggests always timing the time outs and to use three stages of time outs so the parent/teacher has a way to respond progressively if the child continues to act out: 1) the child can not participate but they can observe, 2) the child can not participate and can not observe, and 3) the child has to leave the room. Make sure all of the children understand the progression. Rick Lavoie also does not recommend forced apologies because if the child really does not feel sorry then you are asking him or her to lie. If you have to confiscate goods then make sure that the child has the opportunity to get it back or otherwise you are justifying taking something that belongs to someone else. For example, you take away the Pokémon cards and tell the child that they can have them back at the end of the Sunday session. Preventive discipline involves establishing and maintaining routines so that you are setting up a


predictable structure and a predictable environment. Rules should be posted and understood by everyone and be sure that they are enforced equally for everyone. The parent/leaders need to exude confidence and competence. This can be helped by careful preparation and planning prior to the RE session. Always allow natural movement around the room and use a lot of praise. Lavoie feels that there is no such thing as too much praise, especially for children who rarely get praised for anything. Edward M. Hallowell and John J. Ratey Drs. Hallowell and Ratey are leaders in their work with children and adults with ADD. The following is a few of their ideas for working with ADD children which they described in their wonderful book, Driven to Distraction. I have adapted them to make sense for the RE setting. 1) If a child is consistently having a problem in the Sunday program, sit down with the child and together write down the problem(s) so all agree about what is the problem. 2) Come up with specific remedies for each problem. 3) Make sure there are concrete ways to remember or follow through with the remedies such as alarm clocks, lists, and etc. 4) Provide incentives for following through with the desired behavior. 5) Give frequent feedback and reminders because ADD children often do not see what they are doing while they are doing it. 6) As much as possible, give the child responsibility for their actions. 7) Use lots of praise. 8) Always try to negotiate rather than laying down the law. These are also important tips to consider when working with ADD children. 1) Ask the child what will help; they will tell you how they learn best. 2) Remember, ADD children need structure, they need reminders, they need previews, they need repetition, they need direction, and they need limits. 3) Post the rules. 4) Repeat directions. 5) Make frequent eye contact; you can “bring back” and ADD child with eye contact. 6) Seat the ADD child near you. 7) Set limits and boundaries which are containing and soothing rather than punitive. 8) Have as predictable a schedule as possible. 9) Allow for an escape outlet such as leaving the room. If this is built into the rules of the Sunday program then it allows the child to leave the room rather than losing it in front of his or her peers. Rita Kirsch Debroitner and Avery Hart Debroitner and Hart provide holistic, mind/body techniques for working with ADD children. Convey to the child that there is nothing wrong with ADD through direct communication such as, “You have a lot of energy–that’s good. But you need to use it better.” or “You are good, but what you’re doing right now isn’t. What can you do instead?’ Practice deep breathing with the ADD child and help then find a calm quiet mind. ADD children benefit greatly from learning how to meditate. This is a wonderful RE activity for all children and will especially benefit the ADD child. Make sure that the ADD child gets a friendly greeting with full eye contact and a little personal attention when they enter the RE room each Sunday. This will soothe their tendency to feel isolated and alienated in group environments. Nurture spirituality in ADD children to help them reconnect with their inner selves. This


obviously fits wonderfully with what we are doing in our RE ministry to children. It supports my feeling that we can be a very positive force for these ADD children even if we only see them, if we are lucky, once a week. Thom Hartmann Thom Hartmann focuses on fostering dramatic changes in our attitudes concerning ADD people and how we teach ADD children. Some of his ideas affect the way we work with ADD children in our RE ministry. Hartmann feels that we need to try and reform our schools to make them more Hunter-friendly. “This would include having more active instructional methods, more hands-on work for children, shorter class times, smaller class sizes, and exercise between classes whenever possible.” While we can advocate for school reform, we can also practice what we preach by incorporating many of Hartmann’s ideas into our RE ministry to our children. In my last newsletter, I talk about the need to make our religious education programs less like school in order to be more creative in responding to the spiritual needs of our children. I advocate: removing all language that sounds like school, mixing the age groups, and providing more experiential hands-on activities. I feel that these changes not only will re-engage children who are bored by their Sunday experience but will also create an affirming and nurturing atmosphere for the ADD children in our midst. ADD children should be taught ways to focus and control their distractibility. Meditation that focuses on breathing and quieting the mind is an excellent way for this to occur. Hartmann maintains that ADD adults’ and children’s distractibility, impulsivity and restlessness or risk-taking is the brain’s way of opening up to the experience of aliveness. “Realizing that ADD children and adults are being driven not by an urge to be bad, but rather by an inborn and unmet basic human need, we can view their plight with more compassion and understanding. We can also look to ways to build more stimulation and variety into their lives, be it in the classroom, the work place, at home or in relationships.” If we have an ADD child in our RE program, then we need to help the parent/leaders plan stimulating sessions that will keep the ADD child’s mind active. Mixing age groups and having a variety of activities going on at the same time to accommodate the active child as well as the quieter child can more easily do this. Hartmann suggests that helping these children develop a sense of spirituality or “oneness with God” can help develop an inner and emotional strength. A lifetime of paradox, confusion, and self-doubt has left many ADD children emotionally fragile. It is important for our RE ministry to help ADD children to rebuild a sense of emotional strength by helping them reconnect with their inner selves and a sense of the sacred. This is what our RE ministry is hopefully about for all children. Techniques that UU Churches Have Tried A common solution that many UU churches have used to work with a highly active ADD child in the RE program is to assign a one-on-one aide to the child. The purpose of the aide is to help keep the ADD child constantly busy. While I believe that this solution is better than allowing one child to disrupt an entire group of children and it is better than refusing to allow the child to attend the Sunday program, I do not think it is the best solution. It reinforces the child’s perception that they are different and not to be trusted. I would recommend using a one-on-one aide as a stop gap measure only until the Sunday session can be re-structured to allow for more hands-on activities, a plan developed based on Lavoie’s ideas of preventive discipline, and an escape valve planned and approved of before hand so the child can learn to control his or her own behavior. Having an aide in


the RE session that is trained to work with ADD children is a good idea, I recommend, however, that the aide work with all the children not just the ADD child. Some churches have accommodated a very active ADD child by building into his Sunday experience multiple activities such as: a special role in the Sunday session, helping to set up for coffee hour, mentoring younger children, etc. Some churches have worked with ADD children setting up contracts of behavior that includes rewards for good behavior and consequences to unacceptable behavior that the ADD child has helped identify. This can work very well so long as there are plenty of stimulating activities in which the child can be involved and the contract is enforced. The key to success for most churches is to remain as flexible as possible in structuring a positive RE experience for both ADD children and the parent/leaders. As suggested in this newsletter, there are many techniques that can be used to work with ADD children in the RE program. But, I think the most important and effective method is to teach people about what it means to be ADD. I believe changing our perceptions about ADD will automatically cause people to treat ADD children in a more positive way. It frees us to be more creative and challenges us to find ways to bring out the unique qualities in these children and in so doing it brings out the best in us as parents and teachers.

(All books can be found at Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD) is an excellent resource for information on ADD. There are local CHADD chapters all around the country. Many of them would be very willing to provide information to help plan your program for ADD children. I recommend that you visit their web site at: LD OnLine is the most comprehensive web site on learning disabilities and also covers ADD children. It also has links to other web sites on ADD. I highly recommend this web site at: http://www.ldonline. The Following Books Were Mentioned in the Newsletter Articles Abeel, Samantha; Reach for the Moon Debroitner, Rita Kirsch and Hart, Avery; Moving Beyond ADD/ADHD, An Effective Holistic MindBody Approach Hallowell, Edward M. and Ratey, John J.; Driven to Distraction Hartmann, Thom; Beyond ADD, Hunting for Reasons in the Past and Present Hartmann, Thom; Attention Deficit Disorder, A Different Perception Silver, Larry B.; The Misunderstood Child My Additional Recommendations Block, Mary Ann; No More Ritalin: Treating ADHD Without Drugs Breeding, John; The Wildest Colts Make the Best Horses Breggin, Peter R.; Talking Back to Ritalin Hallowell, Edward M. and Ratey, John J.; Answers to Distraction Hartmann, Thom; ADD Success Stories


A Newsletter of the RE Learning Differences Project
April 2000: Newsletter Six: Multiple Intelligences

“Too often, the gift is not recognized and is regarded only as a problem.” Thomas G. West In the Mind’s Eye s Unitarian Universalists, Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences (MI) appeals to our sense of fair play, our belief that each and every person has gifts to share, our honoring of the diversity of life and that we all have the spark of divine within us which should be allowed to shine. As a mother of a child with dyslexia, I know that my son does not do well in our language-based schools and by many is considered disabled or just not very intelligent. I also know that he thinks differently and often in many creative ways. Therefore, the theory of multiple intelligences resounds with me as being a much more accurate as well as compassionate way of describing how people think. As UU Religious Educators we have the freedom in our religious education programs to disregard the traditional language-based approach to teaching our children. Our ministry is to appreciate and encourage the differences and creativity in all our children. Too often we see children hurting because of a culture that sees their gifts as problems rather than a different way of learning. Putting the MI theory into practice in our RE programs is one way to honor, appreciate, and teach to the many different ways of learning that our children bring to the Sunday experience. Most of the UU Religious Educators that I have talked with love the MI theory, but to some degree have been puzzled how to easily apply it to their RE program. We, after all, do not have the resources of schools, or the time, or the trained teachers. I must confess, I found this to be a major stumbling block myself, but the process of writing the Involve Newsletters and studying more carefully about the RE program process has allowed me to think “outside the box” and come up with solutions. Before describing how my church, the Winchester Unitarian Society, used the MI theory in our RE ministry, the first article, “What is Intelligence?” will give an overview of the theory of multiple intelligences. Then, in “I Like the Theory, but What Now” I will briefly discuss ideas of different teaching methods to match the eight intelligences. Next in “Planet Keepers 2000", I will describe how the Winchester Unitarian Society applied the MI theory in teaching our children and finally I will list some resources about the MI theory for further research.


What is Intelligence?
“It is of the utmost importance that we recognize and nurture all of the varied human intelligences. We are all so different because we have different combinations of intelligences. If we recognize this, I think we will have a better chance of dealing appropriately with the many problems that we face in the world.” Howard Gardner n our western culture if you ask someone, who do you think is a very intelligent person, the answer will generally be someone who has scored high on the IQ test. Someone who has a high IQ is very good at language and math. Yet, according to the New World Dictionary the definition of intelligence is the ability to learn or understand from experience; the ability to acquire and retain knowledge; the ability to respond quickly and successfully to a new situation; use of the faculty of reasoning to solve problems. Thomas Armstrong, an educator and MI specialist, states that “Intelligence depends on the context, the tasks, and the demands that life presents to us and not on an IQ score, a college degree, or a prestigious reputation.” Research has shown that IQ tests consistently predict school success but fail to predict how students will do once they are out of school. According to Armstrong, one study of highly successful professional people indicated that fully a third of them had low IQ scores. Howard Gardner, who has



devoted years to the study of the nature of intelligence, believes that our culture has focused too much attention on the verbal and logical way of thinking, which is what is typically assessed in intelligence tests, and has neglected the many other ways of learning and knowing which takes into account a broader range of skills and ways of successfully interacting with our world. In his 1983 book, Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligence, Gardner proposes that intelligence is not a quantifiable entity that can be summed up with an IQ score, but that there are at least seven distinct intelligences worthy of being considered important modes of thought. (Gardner has added one more since publishing his theory.) Gardner’s theory defines intelligence as an ability to solve problems or create products that are valued in at least one culture. Gardner draws upon findings from evolutionary biology, anthropology, developmental and cognitive psychology, neuropsychology, and psychometrics. He uses eight different criteria to judge what can be considered an intelligence. Four of these include: each intelligence is capable of being symbolized, each intelligence has its own developmental history, each intelligence is vulnerable to impairment through insult or injury to specific areas of the brain, each intelligence has its own culturally valued end-state (civilization’s highest accomplishments). (Thomas Armstrong) Project Zero is an educational research group at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, which continues the exploration of Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences. In conjunction with Project Zero is the Project of Schools Using Multiple Intelligences Theory (SUMIT) which is a three year national study of schools which use the MI theory in their teaching. Project SUMIT in studying schools who use MI theory have found the following outcomes: improved test scores, improved discipline, improved parent participation, and improvement in teaching students with learning disabilities. The following description of the eight different intelligences is adapted from Project SUMIT’s web page. Verbal/Linguistic intelligence allows individuals to communicate and make sense of the world through language. Poets exemplify this intelligence in its mature form. Students who enjoy playing with rhymes, who pun, who always have a story to tell, who quickly acquire other languages--including sign language--all exhibit linguistic intelligence. William Shakespeare, Leo Tolstoy and Jane Austin are good examples of this intelligence. Musical/Rhythmic intelligence allows people to create, communicate, and understand meanings made out of sound. While composers and instrumentalists clearly exhibit this intelligence, so do the students who seem particularly attracted by the birds singing outside the classroom window or who constantly tap out intricate rhythms on the desk with their pencils. Johann Sebastian Bach and the Beatles are good examples of this intelligence. Logical/Mathematical intelligence enables individuals to use and appreciate abstract relations. Scientists, mathematicians, and philosophers all rely on this intelligence. So do the students who "live" baseball statistics or who carefully analyze the components of problems--either personal or school-related--before systematically testing solutions. Albert Einstein, Madame Curie and Henri Poincaré are good examples of this intelligence. Visual/Spatial intelligence makes it possible for people to perceive visual or spatial information, to transform this information, and to recreate visual images from memory. Well-developed spatial capacities are needed for the work of architects, sculptors, and engineers. The students who turn first to the graphs, charts, and pictures in their textbooks, who like to "web" their ideas before writing a paper, and who fill the blank space around their notes with intricate patterns are also using their spatial intelligence. While usually tied to the visual modality, individuals who are visually impaired can also exercise spatial intelligence to a high level. Nikola Tesla, Frank Lloyd Wright and Georgia O’Keefe are good examples of this intelligence. Bodily-Kinesthetic intelligence allows individuals to use all or part of the body to create products or solve problems. Athletes, surgeons, dancers, choreographers, and crafts people all use bodily-kinesthetic


intelligence. The capacity is also evident in students who relish gym class and school dances, who prefer to carry out class projects by making models rather than writing reports, and who toss crumbled paper with frequency and accuracy into wastebaskets across the room. Larry Bird and Rudolph Nuryev are good examples of this intelligence. Interpersonal intelligence enables individuals to recognize and make distinctions about others' feelings and intentions. Teachers, parents, politicians, psychologists and salespeople rely on interpersonal intelligence. Students exhibit this intelligence when they thrive on small-group work, when they notice and react to the moods of their friends and classmates, and when they tactfully convince the teacher of their need for extra time to complete the homework assignment. Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Winston Churchill are good examples of this intelligence. Intrapersonal intelligence helps individuals to distinguish among their own feelings, to build accurate mental models of themselves, and to draw on these models to make decisions about their lives. Although it is difficult to assess who has this capacity and to what degree, evidence can be sought in students' uses of their other intelligences--how well they seem to be capitalizing on their strengths, how cognizant they are of their weaknesses, and how thoughtful they are about the decisions and choices they make. Virginia Woolf and Carl Jung are good examples of this intelligence. Naturalist intelligence allows people to distinguish among, classify, and use features of the environment. Farmers, gardeners, botanists, geologists, florists, and archaeologists all exhibit this intelligence, as do students who can name and describe the features of every make of car around them. Rachel Carson and Jacques Costeau are good examples of this intelligence. Gardner has also examined both spiritual and existential as candidates for intelligence but has rejected both for now because they do not meet all eight of his criteria. The eight intelligences do not operate in isolation but work together with some dominating others. People use a combination of the different intelligences and these combinations make each one of us unique and able to think in different ways from other people. These different ways of thinking and learning add diversity to life and help us solve our problems. Sally Grimes, an educational consultant with a specialization in learning disorders, states that the more fully developed intelligences can support the less developed ones. “Students with dyslexia, for example, may have strong spatial or bodily-kinesthetic intelligences which can be tapped to enhance the weaker linguistic intelligence.” She feels that many good teachers have instinctively used aspects of MI theory for years. I feel the same about UU Religious Educators. However, while many Religious Educators have been very creative about how we teach our children, we have also had a tendency to be too cerebral and to fall back on the traditional school model and language-based approach. Multiple intelligences theory can provide the means to continue our efforts to make our RE ministry less like school and help us teach to the needs and different learning styles of our diverse group of children.

I Like the Theory, But What Now?
The main points of the MI theory to remember are: 1. There is not one entity of intelligence there are many. Do not ask how smart a child is, ask how they are smart. 2. Each child uses each intelligence but to varying degrees, so that each child’s profile is unique. Children solve problems differently - using different combinations of intelligences. 3. Children can learn in each intelligence, but they use their strengths to develop their weaknesses. Working harder in a weak area does not work, but using a strength to learn in a weak area does work. (Ex: using pictures to help convey the meaning of the written word.)


4. There can be no generalization across intelligences. (For example a child that is strong linguistically may not be strong interpersonally.) 5. There is no “right way” to implement the MI Theory. It is not a theory of education, but a theory of intellect and therefore can be applied in many different disciplines such as: education, real life contexts, work environments, apprenticeships, etc. So what now, how can we translate all this information into the RE setting and convey it to our volunteer parent/leaders with out it being burdensome and requiring extensive training? One way I think it helps is to let parent/ leaders assess their own strength and weaknesses. Thomas Armstrong in Seven Kinds of Smart, has an easy questionnaire for assessing strengths and weaknesses according to the different intelligences. So does David Lazear in Seven Ways of Knowing, Teaching for Multiple Intelligences. Once parent/leaders understand themselves they begin to automatically feel how best they like to learn. Then, they can more easily understand some of the basic strategies for teaching each intelligence. They do not have to use all seven intelligences every Sunday, but they can change and incorporate depending on the subject matter. I would also recommend that parent/leaders use more than one intelligence each Sunday to make sure to involve all children. The following are some easy strategies to think about when deciding which intelligence to use for which lesson in a subject area/pillar. It has been adapted from Sally Grimes’ (mentioned earlier) workshop materials. VERBAL/LINGUISTIC - How to use the spoken or written word in RE. Instructional Strategies - read about it, write about it, talk about it, listen to it Teaching Activities - lectures (my least favorite), word games, journal keeping, reading/storytelling, tape recording one’s words, writing poetry or stories, writing a newsletter. I recommend that all activities be done as a group. Materials - books, books on tape, computers, (obviously paper and pencils) VISUAL/SPATIAL - How to use visual aids, visualization, color, or art in RE. Instructional Strategies - see it, draw it, visualize it, color it, mind-map it Teaching Activities - guided meditations; charts, diagrams and maps; photography; visual puzzles and mazes; painting, drawing, collage, sculpting, other visual arts; 3D construction; etc. Materials - art materials, Lego, puzzles, cameras, pictures, recyclable materials for building, etc. MUSICAL/RHYTHMIC - How to use music, rhythm or environmental sounds in RE Instructional Strategies - sing it, play it, beat it, listen to it, sound it Teaching Activities - play live music on different instruments; sing, hum chant, rap or whistle; play recorded music; play percussion instruments; link songs with concepts; meditate to music; create art from musical imagery; make musical instruments from different cultures; etc. Materials - musical instruments including those from different cultures such as: rain sticks; percussion instruments; tape/CD recorder; hymnals and songbooks; etc. INTERPERSONAL - How to engage children in peer sharing, cooperative learning, or large group simulation. Instructional Strategies - teach it, collaborate on it, interact with respect to it, act it Teaching Activities - peer teaching, conflict mediation, interpersonal interaction, peer sharing, community involvement/social justice activities, people sculpting, cooperative games, group discussions, drama/ plays, etc. Materials - props for cooperative games, (obviously this intelligence requires less tangible materials and more interacting together and service projects.) INTRAPERSONAL - How to evoke personal feelings, encourage introspection and self awareness and give children choices in RE. Instructional Strategies - personally connect it and make choices in regard to it


Teaching Activities - journal keeping, goal setting sessions, self-esteem games and discussions, guided meditations, walking the labyrinth, understanding oneself and others through Myers Briggs, the enneagram, or four spiritualities, etc. Materials - journals, games, meditations, etc. LOGICAL/MATHEMATICAL - How to use numbers, calculations, logic, classifications, or critical thinking skills in RE. Instructional Strategies - quantify it, think critically about it, and conceptualize it Teaching Activities - logical problem solving exercisers, logic puzzles and games, logicalsequential presentation of subject matter, quantifications and calculations, etc. Materials - calculators, Legos or blocks BODILY-KINESTHETIC - How to involve the whole body or use hands-on experiences in RE. Instructional Strategies - build it, act it out, touch it, dance it Teaching Activities - creative movement, field trips, mime, drama/plays, crafts, cooking, gardening, using body language or hand signals to communicate, physical relaxation exercises, cooperative games, physical awareness exercises such as yoga, etc. Materials - building tools, clay, manipulatives, sports equipment, etc. NATURALIST - How to use nature to understand to understand our environment in RE. Instructional Strategies - classify it, feel it, connect with it Teaching Activities - planting house plants or seeds; planting or tending a church garden; starting a compost bin; studying rocks, plants, trees, animals; making a collage of the earth and all that lives on it; engage in an outside cleaning project; etc. Materials - gardening tools, seeds, plants, art materials, books on nature, etc. Once parent/leaders have a general understanding of the theory of multiple intelligences, then they can adapt lessons in the various UU curricula to using the above suggested strategies. These are only suggestions and I hope they will inspire more creative ideas, which will free parent/leaders from feeling they have to follow a curricula exactly how it is written. This hopefully will also encourage them to use their own teaching intelligences strengths and should create an enjoyable teaching experience. Parent/leaders should be aware of the different types of children in their session so that they can also plan to the children’s strengths. Many of the teaching activities cross intelligences. For example, planting a garden is naturalist and bodily-kinesthetic and could also be used as an interpersonal (cooperation) and intrapersonal (personal connection with nature) activity. Therefore, with one activity a parent/leader can teach to the strengths of many children and accommodate many different special needs.

(All books can be found at The web site for Howard Gardner’s Project Zero at the Harvard Graduate School of Education is: The web site for Project SUMIT, the study of schools using MI theory is: The Following Books Were Mentioned in the Newsletter Articles Armstrong, Thomas; Seven Kinds of Smart Gardner, Howard; Frames of Mind, The Theory of Multiple Intelligences Lazear, David; Seven Ways of Knowing, Teaching for Multiple Intelligences West, Thomas; In the Mind’s Eye: Visual Thinkers, Gifted People with Learning Difficulties, Computer Images, and the Ironies of Creativity


My Additional Recommendations Armstrong, Thomas; Awakening Your Child’s Natural Genius, Enhancing Curiosity, Creativity and Learning Ability Armstrong, Thomas; Multiple Intelligences in the Classroom Gardner, Howard; Multiple Intelligences: The Theory in Practice Lazear, David; Eight Ways of Knowing, The Artistry of Teaching with Multiple Intelligences O’Connor, Anna and Sheila Callahan-Young; Seven Windows to a Child’s World: 100 Ideas for the Multiple Intelligences Classroom Video: Gardner, Howard; How are Kids Smart? National Professional Resources, Inc. 800-453-7461


Welcoming people with disabilities into the YRUU community
by Sienna Baskin, 1998 (with extensive borrowing from That All May Worship by the National Organization on Disability, 910 16th St. NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20006) As Unitarian Universalists, we believe in the inherent worth and dignity of every person; justice, equity and compassion in human relations; and acceptance of one another. As members of YRUU, we believe in fostering tolerance, understanding and acceptance of diversity. YRUU has built into a thriving movement through the efforts and commitment of its alternative youth members, youth who, because of their history, appearance, political opinions, sexual identity, or racial and ethnic background, find it hard to fit into mainstream youth culture. By holding true to our beliefs, YRUU has the potential to be a welcoming haven to youth and adult advisors with disabilities, one they are not likely to find in their school or daily life. In my experience in local and district youth programming, youth have a natural gift for accommodating their friends with disabilities. Often, a youth or adult advisor with disability is accepted easily into the YRUU circle. However, an advisor’s disclosure of his/her AIDS virus, the social immaturity of a youth with a learning disability, or the struggle of a youth visual impairment to communicate with his/her peers can all be difficult situations for the most solid of youth groups. The good news is, situations like these are often the beginning of the vital process of stretching. Stretching happens when we confront and uproot our personal prejudices, and stretching as a YRUU group is an important step toward a deeper level of community. As members of YRUU, we have a desire and a responsibility to become even more inclusive and knowledgeable so that we feel secure in knowing our beloved community lives our ideals. This resource is a tool for our self-education and training around these issues. There are many steps to becoming a youth group, district conference community, or committee that is inclusive. This resource is simply a suggestion about how to begin some important dialogue and steps that can help YRUU become inclusive to people with disabilities and more accepting of us all. Accidents, diseases, and birth conditions occur that demand dramatic and taxing changes. Families experience intense disappointment, loss, financial burdens and anger in reaction to their loved ones’ problems. Never forget: a disabling condition can happen to anyone. Even if we are healthy now, we may be disabled at some point in our lives. Most people are uncomfortable with people who look and act differently. They may feel awkward and unsure of what to say, and decide to just avoid the encounter. As a result many people with disabilities are often ignored, isolated or rejected. When the response comes out of pity, the person with the disability feels patronized and does not necessarily react with gratitude. How much better to regard someone as a person with abilities, and only secondarily as someone who may need help to use those abilities. In order to confront our own prejudices, educate our peers, and demonstrate respect for our friends, we need to keep thinking and keep loving. Think! Think about what may have happened in the past to the person with a disability who has found the courage to come to a youth group meeting or a conference. Perhaps he or she was treated thoughtlessly by a youth or adult in another church or out in the world. Bitter feelings may last a long time. Guilt, confusion, anger, disappointment are often covered by pretending not to care. We all do it! Remember: It is no more accurate to generalize about people with disabilities from having met one or two, that it is to generalize about people without disabilities, having met one or two. Think before you speak. Our thought processes might be prejudiced, but we can pull


ourselves out of our own attitudinal disabilities by intentionally expanding our awareness. We will learn, by luck, effort or experience, that people with disabilities are more like us than unlike us. We share our humanity. Let’s get our lingo straight: ∗ Disability: A permanent physical, sensory, or intellectual impairment that substantially limits one or more of a person’s major life activities, including reading, writing and other aspects of education; holding a job; and managing various essential functions of life such as dressing, bathing, and eating. Handicap: A barrier society places on the person with a disability. Use people-first language: the principle that the person is primary, the disability secondary. There is no need to memorize the complicated rules of political correctness! This is very simple: just use your words to affirm rather than diminish your friends! For example: “The stairs leading up to our youth group room will be a handicap for Mia, who uses leg braces.” rather than, “Mia is handicapped and can’t get up the stairs.” Another example of people-first language: “people with disabilities,” rather than “the disabled, the crippled, retards, or invalids.” The use of the word “handicap” may be considered derogatory because the legitimacy of the word comes from “cap in hand”, referring to a time when people with disabilities had to beg to make a living. Wheelchair User: A wheelchair is a tool, like many tools we use. “Wheelchair bound” or “confined to a wheelchair” suggest a wheelchair restricts, but in fact a wheelchair allows movement from one place to another and is not confining. Person with a mental illness: Mental illnesses are like other kinds of illnesses. They are sicknesses that a person must cope with and do not define the person themselves. “Mental,” “crazy,” “psycho,” “insane, “ and “nut case” are negative stereotypes of people with mental illnesses that can be very hurtful. People with illnesses are above all else people, so treat them with the respect and dignity your principles encourage you to show all people. Non-disabled: People without disabilities may lose them at any time. Those without disabilities are not better than those with abilities, simply different. They are not “healthy,” normal, “or whole” people because those with disabilities can also be “normal,” “healthy,” and “whole.” Many people with disabilities have praised the frankness of kids who ask them about their disabilities. Kids don’t cover up their curiosity, and with their questions, they show a real interest in the life of the person with disabilities. They ask, “What happened to you? How fast can you go in that chair? How does it work? Do you hurt?” while adults try to shush them up and move them out of the way. In all our relationships at this time in our life, we youth have the opportunity to balance our playful curiosity with our maturity. Questions for group discussion on accessibility for people with disabilities: 1. What physical barriers does YRUU place on people with physical and mental disabilities? 2. Does YRUU structure exclude people with disabilities from participating? 3. Do YRUU conference sites or meeting spaces restrict the mobility or participating of people with physical disabilities?

*Information for some definitions and preferred language taken from the Americorp Accessibilities WebPages.

4. What YRUU conference activities could be exclusive (i.e. workshops, spirit circles, games, worships, registration forms)? 5. What jokes or slang that we use is discriminatory and exclusive to people with disabilities? 6. What can YRUUers themselves do to make the community more welcoming? 7. What can the district do to make the conferences more accessible? Let’s get specific. Here are descriptions of certain kinds of disabilities and a few suggestions. You can improve your personal interactions with the people with disabilities you already know, and improve your youth group’s or district YRUU’s attitudes to be more welcoming and accessible: Mobility Impairment: This is the most visible kind of disability. People who use wheelchairs, walkers, canes, braces or crutches may need to do so for a variety of reasons. Causes of this kind of disability range from accidents to genetic conditions and disease. Personal interactions: Sit, in order to be on eye level when talking to a friend using a wheelchair Do not move a wheelchair, crutches or walker out of reach Be conscious of your friend’s personal space Offer your assistance when appropriate Collective interactions: Make sure there is comfortable seating or space for a wheelchair in group meeting spaces When planning a worship, delegate one person to assist all others with disabilities if your youth group space is inaccessible, work to make the structural changes necessary on the top of your church’s priority list. When planning a conference, also have activities that do not require physical dexterity. Involve friends with disabilities in leadership__ Visual Impairment: Persons with low vision or no vision can actively contribute if they feel welcome. Personal interactions: To get your friend’s attention before speaking, speak his or her name. In a conversation group, identify people by name as each is speaking. Do not pat a guide dog when he or she is working. Feel free to use the words “see” and “look.” Offer to guide when appropriate. Give verbal cues about what is ahead. Inform your friend when you are leaving. Collective interactions: In worships or other activities, describe verbally what is happening, describe materials that are passed out. Try planning worship so that no printed resources are needed. Deaf or Hard of Hearing: People who are hard of hearing communicate through enhanced sound and lip-reading. Many wear “assisted hearing devices” such as hearing aids. Most people who are deaf communicate with American Sign Language. Since ASL is a language in its own right, it has formed the basis of Deaf Culture. Sign language is a beautiful art form that all can enjoy, but it is also the primary mode of understanding for people who are deaf.


Personal interactions: To get your friend’s attention before speaking, touch them on the elbow. Speak face to face with your friend, at a moderate tempo and without exaggeration. Avoid covering your mouth or standing in front of a bright light while speaking. Speak straight to your friend, not their interpreting companion or parent. Do not pretend to understand the speech of your friend if it is unclear. Ask that they rephrase their thoughts until you can understand them. Collective interactions: Make ASL part of your worships. Find or hire an interpreter. Provide a written script of worships. If you have use of a sanctuary for conferences, find out if the church owns assisted listening devices for services and use them.__ Mental Illness: A person with a mental illness has a biological dysfunction in the way he or she thinks, feels and relates to other people. Because of the disorder, the person may find it difficult to cope with the ordinary demands of daily life. Such disorders affect individuals of all ages, across all boundaries of income, education, race and ethnicity. The exact causes of the many mental illnesses are not known. They are not caused by poor parenting or other social causes. They are medically treatable. People with mental illnesses agree that the hardest part of living with their situation is the stigma and misunderstanding of others. Many homeless people have mental illnesses that cause them to be unable to hold jobs or misunderstood by those from whom they seek help. Personal interactions: Try to remain non-critical when encountering unusual behavior. Give responses that are supportive to your friend. Offer choices for different kinds of participation and leadership, letting your friend choose which will be least stressful. Be sensitive to the fact that physical touch (hugs, massages, pats on the shoulder) affect people differently. Some may find touch threatening. Be prepared for anger that has no obvious basis. Avoid acting with hostility. Collective interactions: Advocate for your friends with mental illness and educate your group about their particular disorder(s). Make referrals to professionals when appropriate. Ask the person how the group might be supportive. Begin an outreach program aiding homeless youth with mental illnesses.__ Developmental Disabilities: People with developmental disabilities have lifelong disabling conditions which occurred at or before birth, or before the age of 22. Mental retardation, spinal cord injury, epilepsy, sensory impairment, autism, traumatic brain injury, and many other conditions result in limitations early in life. There are multiple causes of developmental disabilities, including genetic disorders, birth trauma, accidents, child abuse, malnutrition, or poisoning. People with these disorders have often been treated as less than human. We must break down these damaging assumptions! If people with these disorders are lovingly accepted into our community, they will contribute much and draw much from the experience.


Personal interactions: Don’t treat youth and adults with developmental disabilities as children, but as equals Speak directly to your friend with a developmental disability, not to a family member or companion. Give instructions in short sentences, one step at a time. Allow your friend to try tasks on his or her own, to make mistakes, take a longer time, and persevere. Be patient. Collective intereactions: Provide opportunities for participation in all activities Find appropriate ways that the person can contribute and help; passing out programs at Youth Sunday, going with an advisor to pick up pizza, singing at the campfire. Never assume that people with developmental disabilities will “get nothing” out of the loving community of YRUU.__ Learning Disabilities: A person who has a learning disability has constant interruption in the basic, brain-centered processes that affect listening, thinking, speaking, reading, writing, spelling, and sometimes calculating. The person has average to above-average intelligence, although learning is slower or different in the affected areas. A learning disability is a life-long condition. Some people with learning disabilities miss social cues, do not learn easily from experience, and are psychically and socially immature. There may be an uneven ability to retain information, resulting in failure in school. Personal interactions: Be patient and flexible. Communicate clearly and directly. Have realistic expectations. Help your friend understand how their disability is connected to social interaction with peers. Collective interactions: Use different teaching techniques to accommodate different learning styles. Have frequent energy breaks! Plan structured activities for social times Chronic Illness: A Chronic Illness persists for months or years and generally interferes with an individual’s every-day ability to function. The effects may be invisible until periodic flare-ups or the most acute stages begin. Thus this condition can be kept as a secret from all but a few friends and family members. Chronic illnesses include psychiatric disorders, AIDS/HIV, respiratory conditions, diabetes, sickle-cell anemia, multiple sclerosis, and muscular dystrophy. Many people are under the impression that they can “catch” a chronic illness from casual social contact, and avoid those whose behavior or appearance makes them uncomfortable. Again, education is the key! Personal interactions: Be sensitive to the possibility of a hidden chronic illness, especially if a friend repeatedly declines to participate in activities. Accept your friend’s fears about the future Encourage your friend not to limit their enjoyment of the present


Collective interactions: Keep thinking of ways your friend can be involved in the youth group and offering options Educate your youth group about chronic illnesses afflicting members and about the two most stigmatized illnesses: AIDS and mental illness. If your friend is comfortable with the idea, include in worships a time for concentrating good energy into your friend’s body. __ Care Takers: For each person with a severe disability, there is a circle of support made up of the primary caregiver and a group of family and friends. They share problems and challenges, as well as joys and successes. When we become more welcoming and supportive of youth and adults with disabilities, we become part of that circle, and help lighten the load of our friend’s primary caretaker, and improve the lives of both. However, we must also remember that some of our YRUU friends may themselves be caretakers of others. Youth whose family members or close friends have disabilities must confer dignity, comfort, and hope upon the person with a disability, day by day, and not feel like a martyr. To do so, she or he needs multiple sources of personal affirmation. All caretakers also need times of relief from the routine of long-term care, time to focus on their own needs and desires. YRUU can be a place that offers spiritual support and relief. Personal interactions: Listen well. Arrange for transportation, do what it takes to get your friend to meetings. Let your friend take as long as needed in check-in, or plan a worship specifically supporting your friend’s experience. Offer chances for your friend to use her or his creative talents in youth group activities. If your friend can’t make it to an activity, bring him or her a souvenir or treat from the activity. During crises, understand that your friend may not be around for a while. Make frequent contact during the stretches of time in which you see less of your friend. Call to ask how it’s going, how the group can help and to tell little anecdotes and jokes. During one of these times, cook a spaghetti dinner and deliver it to your friend’s family.__ Suggestions for Workshops and Worships: Worships: 1. Everyone is blind folded and asked to go around and meet others without talking or removing their blind folds, followed by a sharing while blind folded about what they could learn with only their sense of hearing, smell, and touch. A celebration of other ways to “see” people. 2. A power shuffle worship focused on personal connection to disabilities and fears and concerns about accessibility of YRUU and the world. A power shuffle gives participants a set of yes/no questions, which they answer by walking to one side of the room or the other. The questions are read aloud, one at a time, and progress into more difficult issues as the worship continues. A full-length shuffle can include hundreds of questions. 3. A worship in which every segment is conducted by a method other than English speaking (i.e. readings in Spanish, songs in sign language, activity instruction by physical demonstration, closing spoken out of order) Workshops: 1. Fish bowl discussion of how accessibility to people with disabilities would require YRUU to change some of its behaviors.


2. Making posters to inform the conference community what jokes, slang and other language is discriminatory and exclusionary to people with disabilities. 3. Invite a speaker from a local Americans with Disabilities or other community based group to tell about the work they do to support and assert the rights of people with disabilities. Experiencing disabilities in YRUU Doug Faron, and Michael Shermanheld 1. Vision impairment (blind folds and Vaseline smeared glasses): Youth are asked to draw a picture from a provided still life. 2. Hearing and Speaking impairments (earplugs and taped mouths): Youth are asked to discuss their favorite bands and find another person who shares their musical interests in the group. 3. Mobility restrictions (ace bandages, crutches, and wheelchairs): Youth engage in YRUU physical games that involve moving or even a simple ball game. 4. Learning Disabilities: Youth are asked to play a word game or name game in which the instructions are garbled, given as quickly as possible with no questions, or read backwards and then everyone is timed to completion. 5. Drug/ Alcohol Addiction: (using candy) Youth are asked to listen to someone talk about the “horrors” of eating candy while sitting there watching them eat it themselves without sharing. Conclude with a discussion about the experience with the people all together. Discuss the restrictive nature of YRUU to people with disabilities and concrete changes conference communities could make, and any other relevant topics that the activity brings up. Worship Task Force: Addressing Accessibility Worship is a natural time to examine the process of becoming more welcoming to people with disabilities. In worship we can make a covenant with each other to keep working on this for ourselves and our YRUU. This issue could be addressed in one of the worship task forces, especially if: • Your YRUU district includes youth or adults with disabilities. • Your district has demonstrated an insensitivity toward people with disabilities. • The youth and adults attending the Spirituality Development Conference would benefit from figuring how to be more “accessible” to each other, as well as people with disabilities. In this worship task force, you may want to discuss a few things in preparation for the worship planning: • the principles of UUism and YRUU that compel its members to strive for accessibility; experiences different local groups have had dealing with this issue; • Youth programs and activities that may be creating barriers for people with disabilities. Then, plan your worship! There are a few ideas in the previous pages to draw from. Quiet, reflective activities, followed by energizing, affirming ones might be best for this worship. Here are a few readings to get you on your way. Litany for Wholeness a responsive reading by Rev. Kate Chipps, adapted by Sienna Baskin There are people who are blind and cannot see, and there are those who can see but are blind to the people around them. Let us touch each other.


There are people who move slowly because of accident, illness or disability, and those who move too fast to be aware of the world in which they live. Let us work together. There are people who are deaf and cannot hear, and there are those who can hear but who ignore the cries of others. Let us respond to each other. There are people who learn slowly, or in different ways, and there are people who learn quickly and easily but often choose ignorance. Let us grow in our wisdom. There are families, friends and caregivers who serve people with disabilities, and those who feel awkward in their presence. Let us see each other with our true eyes. There are people who think they are not worthy of love, and those who believe they don’t need love. Let us accept and return the love that surrounds us. There are people who feel isolated by their disabilities and those who contribute to that sense of isolation. Let us change our lives. The complexity of people on this planet is beautiful, and our lives grow larger when we let each other in. Let us change our lives. There are people who have chronic illness for which there is no known cure or relief, and those who are well but do not use their health to reach out to others. Let us learn to heal and be healed. Many have learned; One who hears less may see more. One who sees less may perceive more. One who speaks slowly may have more to say. One who moves with difficulty may have the clearest sense of direction. -from That All May Worship, by the National Organization on Disability Scavenger Hunt (for congregations or conference sites): Send groups out to find the following things1. A wheelchair accessible bathroom for each wing or floor of the facility 2. 2. A wheelchair accessible door, including curbs approaching the door 3. A person or directory listing for a person who speaks sign language 4. A TDD phone and phone number listing 5. A person capable of dealing with an insulin attack or epileptic seizure 6. An advisor trained or well informed about behavioral problems 7. Braille information about the church or building 8. Two large accessible meeting spaces 9. One accessible sleeping area 10. An accessible entrance to the dining area 11. Registration form spot for asking for accessibility information 12. District policy on assistance dogs 13. A person able to use a TDD phone 14. An accessible podium or pulpit in the sanctuary 15. A community open and accessible to people with disabilities


Get the group back together and discuss the things you found and the things you were unable to find and how all of these relate to the last item on the list. Make a list of suggestions for improvement to your congregation of conference planning committee. Repeat the hunt later on in the year and see how things have changed or not changed. Conclusion: This is by no means a comprehensive resource or training manual. It is just a few suggestions about how to start dialogue and education in your communities concerning people with disabilities and inclusionary steps and ideals. Please feel free to send responses and critiques to the Youth Office or C*SAC to help us make this resource better. We hope it has helped you begin some work on challenging discrimination against people with disabilities. Plans to make another addition of this resource with more extensive suggestion, educational material, perhaps even personal accounts. Please send any success or failure stories you have about the workshop, worships or other activities suggested in this resource for inclusion in the next edition. Thanks you for helping us with our process. For further information: Office on Disability 1-800-322-2020 Information Center for individuals with Disabilities 1-800-462-5015 UUA Accessibility Committee, through UUA (617)742-2100 Americans with Disabilities local chapters, check the phone book UUA Youth Office 25 Beacon St. Boston, MA 02108


HISTORY OF UNITARIAN UNIVERSALIST YOUTH MOVEMENT From the 1997 Youth Programs Review Report to the UUA Board of Trustees and the Youth Council of YRUU, pages 7-8 and Appendix D A BRIEF HISTORY Young Religious Unitarian Universalists (YRUU) was not created out of a primordial void. Those who were involved in the design of YRUU were able to draw upon structural and philosophical models coming from a rich history of Unitarian and Universalist youth organizations that date back as far as the 1890s. In the Universalist movement there was the Young People's Christian Union from 1889 to 1941 and Universalist Youth Fellowship from 1941 to 1953. The Unitarians had the Young People's Religious Union from 1896 to 1941 and American Unitarian Youth from 1941 to 1953. Then in 1953, Liberal Religious Youth (LRY) was formed as a combined Unitarian and Universalist youth organization, preceding the 1961 merger of the parent denominations by eight years. Our religious movement has much to be proud of in its long history of promoting leadership, worship and social action experiences for its youth population. However, YRUU came into being during a time of crisis in the Unitarian Universalist youth movement. LRY, during its growth period in the 1950s and 60s, had been a vibrant, politically involved, largely youth-run, continent-wide network of federations and local groups providing a sense of religious community and UU identity to thousands of youth. In the late 60s, a series of decisions made by both youth leaders in LRY and adult executives in the UUA provided the youth organization with the autonomy it was seeking, but ultimately amounted to a form of abandonment on the part of Unitarian Universalist adults. This led to widespread alienation and distrust between congregation adults and LRY youth, seriously limiting LRY's ability to be effective on the local and district levels. In keeping with the times, there also inevitably arose problems with excessive behavior on the part of the youth. Unfortunately, despite LRY's past successes, by the early-70s it was largely the excesses that it was known for and to this day, people with no direct LRY experience are more likely to associate it with behavior problems than with the positive episodes in its history. In 1976, in response to a growing concern over a lack of adult support for youth programming, the LRY Executive Committee asked the UUA Board to establish a Special Committee on Youth Programs (SCOYP). That committee's 1977 report stated "it is difficult to ignore the massive abdication of adult responsibility" in the existing youth program. Although this would appear to vindicate LRY's call for more support from the UUA, the committee also noted that negative feelings toward LRY had become so entrenched that the dissolution of LRY and creation of a new program would possibly be the only way to adequately serve the future of UU youth. This finding gave way to the formation of Young Religious Unitarian Universalists. In the summer of 1981, the first Common Ground conference was held at Carleton College in Northfield, MN, with district representation constituting an overall two-to-one youth-to-adult ratio. The conference undertook a democratic process through which the current leaders of LRY agreed to end its existence in order to transform it into a new youth organization. The next summer, the delegates of Common Ground II decided on the name Young Religious Unitarian Universalists and created the basic structure that is still in operation today. According to Rev. Wayne Arnason, a former LRYer who was hired by the UUA Board to shepherd the restructuring process, "It took great courage and insight for the LRY leaders of that time to see that the organization they loved had to die in order to survive for future generations of youth, and I believe that is exactly what happened". On January 1, 1983, YRUU was born.


YOUNG RELIGIOUS UNITARIAN UNIVERSALISTS The intention of Common Ground was to form a youth organization based on a model of youth/adult collaboration rather than youth autonomy in order to bring the district and local levels back into a constructive relationship with the continental leadership. But the youth, even with their history of autonomy, were not necessarily the hardest ones to bring to the table of collaboration. In 1989, the YRUU Five-Year Review Committee report, while highly supportive of YRUU, pointed to many of the same inadequacies in adult involvement that the SCOYP report brought out, and that we find ourselves having to reiterate here. Their report states, "Adult involvement in YRUU has improved somewhat from the 'massive abdication' found by SCOYP in 1977, but it is still far below what we feel is necessary". This problem, while showing improvement from 1989, remains today. However, this committee also notes with interest that the overall tone of the Five-Year Review Committee report seems to reflect a continuing emphasis on the development of youth/adult collaboration within YRUU. This is not surprising considering the origins of the organization. Our committee, on the other hand, has found in discussions at all levels of our movement an unquestioning acceptance of the collaboration between youth and adults with the growth area being in an increasing consciousness of and emphasis on the philosophy of youth empowerment. What emerges from this is a picture of UU youth programming over the past 20 years which has evolved from a guiding philosophy of youth autonomy, which created a crisis of confidence on the part of adult UUs, to youth/adult collaboration, which sought to bridge a chasm of hostility and distrust between the generations, to youth empowerment, which is now being differentiated from youth autonomy and reemphasized as a philosophical priority. The fact that the larger movement can comfortably return to the philosophy of youth empowerment is the clearest possible indication that a great deal of adult confidence has been restored in youth programming since the crisis of the mid-70s. This is an accomplishment deserving of celebration. But it also indicates the need for adult involvement to be more conscious and intentional than ever. The demise of LRY demonstrated that youth empowerment is only meaningful and can only be maintained when it is done in direct relationship with adults. A failure on the part of adult UUs to participate in that relationship amounts to abandonment of the youth. ONGOING REVIEW AND DEVELOPMENT OF YOUTH PROGRAMMING As already noted, youth programming in the Unitarian Universalist Association is under constant review and change. Reports that have been done to date are: 1989 YRUU Five-Year Review Committee Report 1997 Youth Program Review 2000 Proposals for Change: Youth Advisory Task Force (in display box)


BUILDING COMMUNITY IN YOUTH GROUPS “Five Steps to Building Community in Youth Groups” (Deep Fun) and "Building Intimacy" (Youth Advisor Handbook, p. 20) are based on a model developed by Denny Rydberg in Building Community in Youth Groups (Group Publishing, Inc., 1985). To summarize: Step One: Bonding Begin to identify as part of the team Break down cliques and barriers Establish a relationship of trust within the group Problem-solving tasks/activities that require members to work together with specific instructions, and cooperation is the goal Each person’ s input is accepted and welcomes by others Low-risk activities, so that participants reveal only as much as they are comfortable with, such as interests and hobbies. Step Two: Opening Up Can realize personal imperfections and uniqueness, knowing that group loves them Show genuine interest in others, leads to trust The more sympathetically the group listens, the greater the trust. Activities allow sharing to the degree that people are comfortable. Participants feel enthusiastic about deepening friendships. Move toward revealing hopes, fears and dreams. Step Three: Affirming Share appreciation of and affirm each other Participants leave with warm and fuzzy feeling Can disagree but respect diversity. Step Four: Stretching Occurs in response to a situation that is beyond usual daily events. Realize their importance to entire group Going beyond normal comfort level, actively care for each other Sharing more of self, and still cared for, affirmed Step Five: Deeper Sharing Share deeply; set goals and visions Group sharing of problems; willing to take risks together. Help individual work through problems, but still hold the person accountable Notes: Not all sharing is appropriate for the group, especially if it makes others uncomfortable. There needs to be an ongoing understanding of individual and group boundaries. If a new person enters the group, the group will have to go to the first steps and orient the newcomer. This can be done by sharing traditions, explaining group "culture" as references arise, and having a game or activity that makes the newcomer feel part of the group. The focus is an understanding of where the group is, rather than a race to Deeper Sharing!


BALANCED YOUTH PROGRAM (Rev. Helen Zidowecki) SWAFLL OVERVIEW The "Five Components of Balanced Youth Programming" were introduced to people involved in ministry with youth in the Five Year Review Report of the YRUU Activities (1989). They were then incorporated into the Ministry With Youth Renaissance Module in 1992. The youth introduced the Components during the Youth Focus at the Unitarian Universalist Association's General Assembly in 1996. Following is a way of describing Balanced Religious Education/Youth Programming. The term "SWAFLL" originated with the Northeast District Youth Adult Committee to remember the components. The respective components implement the Unitarian Universalist Afirmations, as suggested here (understanding that each Affirmation can apply to more than one component). Youth use beads to represent the Components. The color of the bead is noted for the Components. Social Action/Justice --Activities address problems and inequities in human relations. They occur on the congregation district and continental level, and in society. Affirmations: Justice, equity, and compassion in human relations; and the goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all; and respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part. Color: Green, for treating the earth and each other responsibly. Worship -- This is the celebration of the religious community, with a focus on the "worth-ship" of each person. There are formal services, such as Sunday morning, and more informal, such as centering at the beginning of a meeting. Affirmation: Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations. Color: Red, which is at our center, our lifeblood and our passion. Activities and Fellowship -- The focus is on the activities that are social in nature, such as potluck dinners, game nights, pizza parties. This includes caring for members of the group and making newcomers feel welcome. Affirmation: The inherent worth and dignity of every person. Color: Clear, to signify the transparency and openness of friends and the social aspect of programs. Learning (Structured curriculum)-- The curriculum used is a resource, a reference, for the group and Teachers/Advisors. Criteria used in selecting curricula include: age-specific focus, Unitarian Universalist values, and interest of the Youth and Teachers. Affirmation: A free and responsible search for truth and meaning. Color: Blue. In some eastern philosophies, blue is the color of intellectual growth. Leadership Opportunity-- Development of leadership skills of youth and adults is critical to the future of our faith community. This also uses the democratic process within our congregations and society as a whole. Affirmation: The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large. Color: Purple, which is the color of royalty, leadership and self-governance. These components are not mutually exclusive. A worship service can focus on a social justice issue; planning a social activity involves development of leadership and organizational skills. Churches and groups need to address all of the components but the focus will change. FUNdraising is an integral part of youth activities, as a means to implementing the components. A SWAFLL game is available from Helen Zidowecki (


Fold the paper in half between "Your Congregation" and "Youth Programming in Your Congregation." YOUR CONGREGATION 1. Draw a circle/pie. 2. Divide your pie into five unequal parts. 3. Assign a component to each part--Worship, Social Action, Activities and Fellowship, Learning, and Leadership--based on the relative amount of time and energy you perceive is allotted within your congregation. 4. Note some activities in the respective areas.

YOUTH PROGRAM IN YOUR CONGREGATION 1. Draw a circle/pie. 2. Divide your pie into five unequal parts. 3. Assign a component to each part--Worship, Social Action, Activities and Fellowship, Learning, and Leadership--based on the relative amount of time and youth programming energy allotted. 4. Note some activities in the respective areas.


Social Action/Justice --Activities address problems and inequities in human relations. They occur on the congregation district and continental level, and in society. Affirmations: Justice, equity, and compassion in human relations; and the goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all; and respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part. Color: Green, for treating the earth and each other responsibly. 1. What is the focus of this component? What do you want to accomplish?

2. What are some examples of this component?

3. What is the structure within your congregation that focuses on this component? Who is responsible? Who is involved?

4. What are some of the resources for this component? Discuss these resources and add to them. Local Youth Group Handbook Youth Advisor Handbook General Assembly Resolutions YRUU Social Justice Conference, Washington, D.C. (March) YRUU Social Action Coordinators (one per district)

5. How can children and youth be involved within the congregation?

6. What "quality control/safety" considerations would you have in planning an activity for youth in your topic area. (Example: time to prepare)

7. OTHER NOTES/COMMENTS Do we really understand of the reason for projects, and the benefits to the recipients of the services?


Worship -- This is the celebration of the religious community, with a focus on the "worth-ship" of each person. There are formal services, such as Sunday morning, and more informal, such as centering at the beginning of a meeting. Affirmation: Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations. Color: Red, which is at our center, our lifeblood and our passion. 1. What is the focus of this component? What do you want to accomplish?

2. What are some examples of this component?

3. What is the structure within your congregation that focuses on your component? Who is responsible? Who is involved?

4. What are some of the resources for children/youth for this component? Local Youth Group Handbook Youth Advisor Handbook How to Be A Con Artist Youth Spirituality Anthology Spirituality Training/Conferences

5. How can children/youth be involved within the congregation?

6. What "quality control/safety" considerations would you have in planning an activity? (Example: time to prepare)



Activities and Fellowship -- The focus is on the activities that are social in nature, such as potluck dinners, game nights, pizza parties. This includes caring for members of the group and making newcomers feel welcome. (This is also called Community.) Affirmation: The inherent worth and dignity of every person. Color: Clear, to signify the transparency and openness of friends and the social aspect of programs. 1. What is the focus of this component? What do you want to accomplish?

2. What are some examples of this component?

3. What is the structure within your congregation that focuses on your component? Who is responsible? Who is involved?

4. What are some of the resources for this component? Discuss these resources and add to them. Local Youth Group Handbook Youth Advisor Handbook Deep Fun

5. How can children and youth be involved within the congregation?

6. What "quality control/safety" considerations would you have in planning an activity for youth in your topic area. (Example: time to prepare)



Learning (Structured curriculum)-- The curriculum used is a resource, a reference, for the group and Teachers/Advisors. Criteria used in selecting curricula include: age-specific focus, Unitarian Universalist values, and interest of the Youth and Teachers. Affirmation: A free and responsible search for truth and meaning. Color: Blue. In some eastern philosophies, blue is the color of intellectual growth. 1. What is the focus of this component? What do you want to accomplish?

2. What are some examples of this component?

3. What is the structure within your congregation that focuses on your component? Who is responsible? Who is involved?

4. What are some of the resources for this component? Discuss these resources and add to them. Youth Advisor Handbook Listing of curricula, such as on the Unitarian Universalist Association web page/from Religious Education Department

5. How can children/youth be involved within the congregation?

6. What "quality control/safety" considerations would you have in planning an activity? (Example: time to prepare)

7. OTHER NOTES/COMMENTS Youth, especially those in senior high school, may be interested in participating in adult education programs.


Leadership Opportunity-- Development of leadership skills of youth and adults is critical to the future of our faith community. This also uses the democratic process within our congregations and society as a whole. Affirmation: The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large. Color: Purple, which is the color of royalty, leadership and self-governance. 1. What is the focus of this component? What do you want to accomplish?

2. What are some examples of this component?

3. What is the structure within your congregation that focuses on your component? Who is responsible? Who is involved?

4. What are some of the resources for this component? Discuss these resources and add to them. • Youth Advisor Handbook • How to Be a Con Artist • Youth Leader Training

5. How can children/youth be involved within the congregation?

6. What "quality control/safety" considerations would you have in planning an activity? (Example: time to prepare)



FUNdraising is an integral part of youth activities, as a means to implementing the components 1. What is the focus of this component? What do you want to accomplish?

2. What are some examples of this component?

3. What is the structure within your congregation that focuses on your component? Who is responsible? Who is involved?

4. What are some of the resources for this component? Discuss these resources and add to them. • Local Youth Group Handbook • Fundraising in Youth Groups

5. How can children/youth be involved within the congregation?

6. What "quality control/safety" considerations would you have in planning an activity? (Example: time to prepare)



FUNdraising in Youth Groups "I want money, whole mess o’ money, buckets o’ money. Go money!!"
So, your youth group is in dire need of some cash and they dumped the responsibility all on you. Don’t worry it isn’t as bad as it sounds. Fundraising can be fun and easy. Besides what other choice do you have?

Why do we need to raise money?
That is the first question that you and your youth group need to answer before you start fundraising. Do you need money for scholarships for conferences? For a youth group retreat? For a heritage trip to Boston? Or are you raising money for charity and social action? Before your youth group starts raising money, figure out why the group needs the money and exactly how much money needs to be raised. Both setting a fundraising goal and knowing the reason for fundraising are great tools to motivate a youth group to fund raise. If the goal is met, the youth group also has a definite sense of accomplishment. Now that you know why you want to raise money, here are a few other issues you should investigate: Who do you plan on raising money from? Are you targeting parents of the group? Members of the congregation? Members of the community? Try and target your fundraising towards the population who is most likely to respond positively to your efforts. Are your fundraising goals and project topics realistic? Will the fundraising event that you planned raise enough money? Will you need to plan a more lucrative event? Is your projected attendance at the fund raising event realistic? Is the project that your group is planning inclusive of the whole youth group? If all the members of the youth group are not excited or included in a fundraising event you should try and redesign the event so that everyone can be involved. Ownership of the fundraiser is important. Who will be responsible for the planning of the fundraiser? Will the fundraiser be planned by the whole youth group, or a sub-committee of the group? Have you selected one person to be responsible for the logistical organizing of the event? Have you spoken to the church about the fundraiser? You will need to reserve space in the church for the fundraiser. Also, make sure that the fundraiser is okay with the church board. Try and avoid scheduling the event to compete against fundraisers by other organizations in the church. How much seed money do you have to start your fundraising project? Some fundraising projects require money to get the ball rolling. For example, you will need to purchase groceries for a fundraising dinner and decorations for a fundraising dance. Have you figured out where you’re getting the supplies for the event? Find out how much supplies will cost before starting the project. Find out if you can purchase supplies wholesale through a member of your congregation. See if the church has supplies that you can use. If your fundraiser is for charity, consider contacting stores and seeing if you can purchase supplies at a discount. Make sure items like tables and chairs will be available for your use during the event.


Do you have a system of bookkeeping established? Keeping good track of how much money is spent and how much money is earned as you go along will save you time and effort at a later date. How well have you advertised the fundraising event? Has the event been advertised in the church newsletter? Have you arranged for the event to be announced during the Sunday morning services? Have you personally invited members of the congregation? Have you made fliers for the event to distribute around the church? Does all advertising clearly state the type of activity, the dates, the location, the price (you can be sneaky and call it a donation), the name of the organization, and the reason for the fundraiser. Plan your fundraising event carefully. Fundraising can be fun and easy when planned right. When a fundraiser is not properly planned, the results can be disastrous. What do you want to do to rake in those big bucks? When selecting a fundraising project you should look at the talents and skills of your group and try to adapt them to what you feel will work the best. For a youth group’s first fundraising project try and start small. Once the youth group feels comfortable with fundraising try a larger, more daring project. Your group will also need to decide if they want the fundraiser to be a one-shot deal or a longterm project. Some of the suggested fundraisers can last all year. If you are going to undertake one of these projects, make sure that your group is willing to see the project through to the end. Below are a list of fundraising projects that have worked for local youth groups. By no means should you limit yourself to the activities listed below. Be creative, use the talents of your group, and most of all have fun with it. If your fundraising project isn’t enjoyable and fun for the group, then it isn’t worth the effort. Do not let fundraising become a drag. Considerations in selection of a fundraising event: Is it inclusive? Can all members of the youth group participate in some way? Is it respectful of participants and people it is intending to attract? Is it consistent with the Unitarian Universalist affirmations of justice, compassion, environmental considerations?

Suggested Fundraisers
Service Projects Service projects take the least amount of initial capital and effort to plan, but they require the most amount of actual labor to complete. Service projects can be very profitable. So get out there and work up a sweat. Car Wash This is a great and easy fundraiser. All you need to do is set up a hose and a bucket of soap and go to it. There are a few different variations on this fundraiser. Hold the car wash during the Sunday service and offer it in combination with valet parking. If that won’t work, have the car wash after the service and sell refreshments to your waiting customers. If the church is located near a major intersection or in a high traffic area try to wave in traffic from the community. If you are raising money for a social action cause, contact local gas stations and see if they will donate their facilities for an afternoon.


This fundraiser helps to raise money by washing cars. Typically you would charge $3-$5 for a car, and slightly more for a truck. This does require people to manually work and sweat. It can be very successful if you are in a well-populated area where there are lots of cars. Location is a key element to this fundraiser. The church might not always be the best place to hold this. Go out and ask businesses to see if you can do it in their parking lot. Remember that you doing a car wash in front of someone else’s business tends to give them more business! Stay smart. Service Auction This is an interesting fundraiser. Advertise to the church that your youth group is going to hold a service auction. You can either find a skill that each member of the group has, or leave the group in the hands of your congregation. Auction off individuals or crews of youth for a day of labor. Things like raking leaves, yard work, and painting are activities that you can do. Baby Sitting Baby-sitting is a traditional task of youth groups in churches. While this is often a stereotypical role for youth in congregations, it does pay. Baby-sitting can be done on an individual or group basis. Provide child care for church activities such as dinners, dances, and meetings. Have a baby-sitting pool for members of the congregation to call when they need child care. Dog Washes This fundraiser will separate the animal lovers in the group from the non-animal lovers. It works on the same principle as the car wash, only it smells a little bit worse. Since it is logistically more difficult to get dogs to this event than cars, have a sign up sheet available to the congregation ahead of time. Dog Walking Service Yes, even more fun with pets. If members of your congregation live near each other then this might be a good fundraiser. Charge members of your congregation to walk their dog once a week. This is a long-term fundraiser. Coffee Hour Ask your church if the youth group could be responsible for the refreshments that are served during coffee hour. If your church sells the coffee and doughnuts then ask if your youth group can be responsible for their sale, and keep the profits. If the refreshments cannot be sold, take care of distributing them and put out a clearly marked tip jar. This may not make a lot of money, but it will make a good impression on the congregation that will pay off in the long run. Sales Sales will attract almost every member of the congregation the first time around, so make sure that there is something worthwhile offered if you want customers to come around the second time. Match your merchandise to the occasion. For instance, it would be better to sell arts and crafts than baked goods at a congregational dinner, because food is already available Often selling T-shirts, coffee mugs, bumper stickers, etc. are great things to sell. Have a creative artistic person in your youth group design a logo or design for a product and then bring it to a print shop or a place that has the means to produce these items.


T shirt sale Have an artist in the group design a T-shirt logo with a UU theme. Have the logo silk screened on T-shirts, or silk screen them yourself. Sell the T-shirts at your congregation, district conferences, the district annual meeting and other UU events. Advertise the T-shirt in the district newsletter. There are companies that sell T-shirt for fundraising that have designs that are of interest UUs (see the small profit section). Rummage Sale The logistics of this event can be difficult but it can turn a mean profit. There are two ways to run this event. One way is to have members of the congregation donate typical garage sale items to the youth group. Take the items to a local swap meet or flea market and sell away. The other way is to hold the rummage sale in front of the church targeting the congregation and the local community as your customers. This project involves having items brought to a central location, sorted, priced and sold, so get organized before you start. This also works well with a used book sale, and have people donate old novels, literature, comic books, etc. Small Profit Organizations There many organizations that have products that can be sold for fundraising purposes. The fundraiser receives a certain amount of money for every item they sell. Some things that can be sold through small profit organization are T-shirts, books, bumper stickers, buttons, calendars, and greeting cards. These organizations occasionally advertise in The World and other UU publications. Arts and Crafts Every YRUU group has a handful of skilled artisans. Exploit their talent, sell their prized works of art and throw the money in your youth group’s coffer. Set up a table after church and sell paintings, necklaces, bracelets, earrings, sculptures, etc. If there is interest, offer custom made items. Bake Sale Nothing beats a good old bake sale for a traditional fundraiser. Be creative and try to sell items more exotic than brownies and cookies. Decorated boxes of candy make great presents and sell well. Hey, if you have left over ingredients from your baked goods what could possibly be more fun than a food fight? Cake Walk This is a fun interesting fundraiser. The idea is to have cakes donated, or the group can make them. But the idea is to get them as cheap as possible. Another idea is to ask parents of the youth to donate them. Okay, this is pretty simple. You sell tickets for about $10 a piece to people in the congregation. Lay the cakes out on a table on the day of the walk. Then chairs are set up in a circle that are numbered for however many people there are participating—everyone has a chair. There is a basket with corresponding numbers to the chairs. Play some music, and people get up, walk around, and sit in a new chair. When they sit down, a number is drawn from the basket and the person with the corresponding chair, gets to pick a cake from the table. The number from the basket, the person, and the chair are then taken out of the game, and you repeat it until all the cakes are gone. This is a great thing to do after a service in the afternoon. It is really nice to have enough cakes for the amount of people there, so no one feels bummed because they didn’t get a cake. To make some extra money, you could sell sandwiches and lunch stuff so they can eat before / after they play.


Cookie Walk Have cookies donated and put out on a table that people can walk around.. Sell empty, clean, and decorated coffee cans with tops (such as $5 for a small can and $10 or a large can). People fill the cans from the cookies on table. (This is a good event for the Christmas season, decorating the cans with wrapping paper.) Sticker and Button Sale What better way of spreading the liberal UU message then with a bumper sticker or a button? You can order buttons and bumper stickers or make your own. Have an artist make a design or logo and take it to a print shop. Entertainment Events Any entertainment event you plan will require a great deal of time and effort on the part of the organizer. The most important thing to remember when planning an entertainment event is to have a theme. The theme holds the event together and can be used to remind the audience of the reason for raising money. Coffee House We know how talented we are, so why shouldn’t we show it off to the rest of the congregation and make a few bucks to boot? Hold an event for the congregation that showcases the different performing talents of members of your group. Charge admission and sell coffee and other refreshments. Plays Is your youth group particularly dramatic? Or should I say, do you have members of your youth group who are skilled actors and actresses. Stage a play for the congregation. Even if some members of the group do not have dramatic skills, they can still be involved as set designers, directors, publicity people, costume designers and a whole array of other tasks. To fatten up the profits, make the performance a dinner theater. If your group wants to do this kind of fundraiser, then be sure that you are willing to commit the time and energy that goes along with it. Concerts Throw a concert for your congregation. Have musically talented members of the group sing, play an instrument etc. Another way of doing this event is to have a concert for the public. If a member of your youth group is in a popular local band have them play at the church. Food Events Hosting events with food is a sure bet. Food is a product that people just can’t live without, so it will draw in customers. Food events are also great ways to bring community together and build a forum where young and old can meet. Use these events to socialize with members of the congregation that you would not ordinarily spend time with. Also try and make them interesting. Incorporate a theme in with the meals and dress and decorate appropriately. Spaghetti Dinner The spaghetti dinner is a classic fundraiser. It takes very little effort to prepare, is fairly inexpensive, and everyone goes home full. Make sure that you make enough food for everyone.


All Church Breakfast Before or after a Sunday service, serve pancakes and all the fixings to the congregation. Ice Cream Social Replace the traditional coffee hour with an ice cream social. Set up chairs and tables and have an ice cream sundae “buffet.” After all, who doesn’t love ice cream? Parties Parties give you an opportunity to come together as a church and play. They take less effort and seed money than a dinner but require a whole lot more creativity. Carnival or theme park Set up a series of games and booths with prizes. Have fortune tellers and a roulette wheel. Sell popcorn, candy apples, refreshments and other carnival foods. Spice up the carnival and have shaving cream pies that you can throw at the designated person. This event may turn more of a profit than admission but see what your carnival will look like before you decide. This event is mainly aimed at the children of the congregation, so have a few fun things for the adults. A carnival takes a lot planning and effort, but it will pay off in the end. Halloween Carnival A Halloween Carnival works on the same principle as a carnival, but with a spooky angle to it. In addition to the carnival, set up a haunted house and have a contest for the best costume. Do Halloween activities such as bobbing for marshmallows in confection sugar, or decorating contests to decorate the best Halloween cookie! There are no limits to the fun you can have. A lot of work goes a long way! “High School” Dance Throw a high school style dance or prom for the members of your congregation. Have music from when they were in high school, and have them come dressed in the style of clothes from their high school days. Take candid pictures and portraits that you can sell. Other Parties Throw a costume party for the members of the congregation. It’s always fun to get dressed up silly. Go out and buy a giant cake and throw an un-birthday party for the congregation, Alice in Wonderland style. The Thing-A-Thon The basic premise of this fundraiser is that you and your group do a certain activity for a very long period of time. The youth participating in this event get members of the congregation to sponsor them. For every hour, minute or unit of something that the youth group completes the sponsoring member will donate a certain amount of money. One idea is the jog-a-thon, where the youth group runs laps. If you are looking for a lower impact fundraiser, try the rock-a-thon where you rock in a rocking chair all day. You can even put a social action spin on it with the volunteer-a-thon, where members of your group volunteer in shelters or soup kitchens. The more creative you are with this activity the more money you can rake in.


Other Suggestions Penny Jars Set up huge jars in churches, during cons, everywhere acceptable and people can drop pennies in. This is pretty simple, just make sure people know that the jars are there and always good to state your purpose so that they can know where their pennies are going. And you will need to have people available to roll the pennies! Raffle, Bo Baffle The idea behind this fundraiser is to find someone to donate an item the people would like to buy. An antique item works well, maybe a nice piece of furniture or a grandfather clock or artwork or something like that. Then the youth sell the tickets to people. Be sure that you are clear about when the winner will be drawn and whether a person needs to be present. Then have the raffle. District Fundraising District fundraising can often times be more difficult than fundraising at the local level because of the distances between churches and the infrequency when district youth gather together. To combat these problems you can try one of the ideas below to help raise money for district YRUU. Fundraising Conference Hold a fundraising conference. Over the course of a weekend offer services and events for the host congregation and community. Use a series of the suggestions that are listed above. For example have a Coffee House on Friday night and a car wash on Saturday Morning. YAC Tax Have a certain amount of the registration fee from district conferences go directly to the district funds. Last Thoughts Remember that fundraising isn’t just a way of collecting money for your youth group, it is also a wonderful tool for community building, both within the group and the congregation. Fundraising activities can help members of the youth group get to know each other better. The activities can also help members of the youth group meet members of the congregation that they would not ordinarily have any contact with. Fundraising gives a youth group the opportunity to creatively problem solve and develop leadership skills. Above all, fundraising should be fun. So remember to keep the fun in FUNdraising and go out there and get some cash. Don’t be afraid to ask for help Utilize what is available to you Consider your audience’s wallet Keep records of what you get Careful how much you spend Location, Location, Location Always ask for donations


Youth Involvement in the Congregation (Youth Advisor Task Force Report, 2000, p.8-9)
Ideally, youth would be visible and active in a congregation. Youth have energy, ideas, and enthusiasm to bring to any group. It's unfortunate that in many places, youth groups and congregations are obviously divided. It is easy for adults to have great misconceptions about what the youth group does or is about because of this division. Youth groups need to feel welcome and enthused about coming "out of the basement" and up into the pews and pulpit. If youth are given the spotlight for a while, they can dispel any myths that may be floating around the congregation about them. Also, it never hurts for youth to be given recognition for the work that they do. Announcements from the pulpit about youth work and comments about what the youth are up to would help to dispel some misconceptions adults who don't work with youth may have. If youth are visible in a congregational community, parents of younger children will be excited to have their child grow into the youth program. Bridging the gaps between the youth and adults in a congregation requires not only that youth advisors work with the youth to create enthusiasm for involvement, but also that the congregation reach out to the youth. There is an untapped potential for youth to minister to adults, and for adults to minister to youth. Youth often feel that the congregation is for their parents, and call the Sunday service the "adult service." Ideally, worship is for all in a congregation, and we fear that without a connection to the greater church youth programming becomes a place for the children of UUs, not for young UUs. While youth need a place in the church that is their own, they also need to feel that they are part of a greater community. When congregations are in search for a new parish minister or religious educator, including the youth voice in these critical decisions can be key in developing the relationships between youth, ministers, and religious educators. We feel that in order to create good communication and respect for youth, parish ministers and professional religious educators need to have a working understanding of ministry to youth, and need to view youth as a part of the congregation. Youth also bring a fresh voice and view to the process of a search, and can help the group avoid adultcentric bias. This is particularly useful in learning first hand about a candidate's comfort with youth. Recommendation to Local Youth Group Leadership and Youth Advisors: Consider ways in which you can connect ministers to the youth in your congregation. Invite a minister to be a participant (not a leader) in a youth group event such as an overnight, specific youth-designated activity, or focused conversation. Interview the minister about how she views her faith. Ask the minister to lead an activity with the youth group using a skill, hobby, or interest that he could share. Recommendations to Local Religious Educators and Local Ministers: Examine how you can help to make the youth more connected to the rest of the congregation. Place value on youth program and keep up to date on what's happening with the youth group. Invite youth to the pulpit to share their views and stories. Inform the congregation about youth group activities or highlights during weekly announcements. Invite youth and youth advisors to make announcements, light the chalice, lead songs, and perform other parts of the service.


Recommendation to Congregational Boards: Evaluate your by-laws to see how the voice of youth can be better heard in the decision-making in your congregation. Consider creating a youth representative position on your board, as this increases youth investment in the congregational life and gives the congregation the benefit of the youth voice. Look at other ways in which the congregation may include or exclude the youth voice. Invite youth and youth advisors to board meetings, to give reports of the work they are doing, or just observe. Include youth advisors in your vision of who is in leadership in your congregation. When your congregation is in search for a parish minister or professional religious educator, consider including a youth member on the search committee, and examine other ways in which youth can be involved in these important decisions in a congregation.

Intergenerational Programming within Congregations (p.9-10)
Intergenerational work within congregations is receiving greater attention now than at any other time in our Association's recent history. There is renewed emphasis on the important role of a strong religious education program in the growth of a congregation; parish ministers, religious educators, parents, youth advisors, and youth all express a desire for a greater sense of congregational identity that bridges the generations. There is also a desire in many congregations to find new ways to build community in a congregation beyond committee work. This is an area in which youth and youth advisors can help lead the way. Youth programming has a strong element of community development. Deep Fun, the YRUU games book published by the Youth Office, contains games that are also steps to building community, games that build trust, support, caring, and nurturing within a group. These elements are not unlike what we seek in our congregations. Many congregations are doing great work in creating intentional, intergenerational community. Youth have led congregational workshops, using skills gained in their youth group and at youth conferences. Youth advisors have worked with religious educators and ministers, finding ways to support their congregants in community development. Congregations and youth groups have found ways to reach out to non-Unitarian Universalists in their communities through this work. Projects have raised the visibility of youth and children in a congregation through a congregational commitment to inclusivity. Yet these success stories are not broadly known.

Local Religious Education Committees and Youth Adult Committees (p. 10-11)
Most congregations have a committee overseeing and/or supporting religious education, which we will refer to as the religious education committee. This committee often steers the religious education department. Youth programming may be seen as either separate from religious education, or as another religious education class. When youth programming is completely separate, the youth can be especially marginalized in the congregation, and continuity and transitions between the children's program and the youth group are difficult or non-existent. When youth groups fall exclusively under religious education, religious educators are often given the monumental task of supporting youth advisors and program as well as programs for

children and often adults. Too often the religious educator is placed in the role of "bad guy," imposer of rules and restrictions, and may not have acquired effective skills for communicating with youth. We feel that neither situation empowers youth, youth advisors, or religious educators. Our hope is that congregations and religious educators will develop a new vision of youth programs, with youth programming as a part of a continuous flow of lifespan religious education and all-church programs that integrate youth and adults. A good way to do this would be to create a committee separate from the religious education committee to coordinate all youth work. This group could focus on the older children, grades six to twelve, or whatever would work best for the given congregation, and would have liaisons to and from the religious education committee. For the purposes of our recommendation, we are calling this group the local youth adult committee, or YAC. A local YAC can be a wonderful support and advocacy group for a youth program, as well as a problem solving and prevention tool. A YAC should ideally consist of youth, youth advisors, the religious educator, parents, and if possible, a minister. If parents are invited to serve on a committee along with youth advisors, they would have the opportunity to work side by side and get to know one another. A YAC also gives youth advisors and religious educator a set time to sit down in the same room and check in about how things are going. Most uncomfortable situations can be cleared up with open communication, and a YAC is an ideal set up for being able to lay issues (such as problems with youth advisor, parental concerns, activity conflicts, etc.) on the table so everyone can hear them and respond. A local YAC can work together to break stereotypes that the congregation may have about youth or their youth advisors, and help the youth advisor break stereotypes that the youth may have about adults in the congregation. The focus of the YAC, ideally, would be on supporting the youth program and advocating for youth within the congregation. We recommend that youth groups also develop a method of planning, developing covenants, and resolving intra-group conflict. This could be a leadership committee of the youth group, officers who have meetings outside the group, or whole group planning and organization sessions. Our vision of a YAC is not as a planning body for the youth group, but a mission-based group supporting healthy, balanced youth programs. Recommendations to Local Youth Program Leadership, Religious Educators and Youth Advisors: Examine how your congregation does or doesn't support your youth program. Talk to youth advisors, youth group, religious educator, church board, and parents about starting a YAC, or another group to meet support and advocacy needs. Use other religious educators with successful YACs as resources in your work. If your YAC serves as your youth group planning body or has a different composition or role, consider creating another group with the function we discuss above in mind. Recommendation to Local Religious Education Committees: Look at how you do or do not include youth and youth advisor perspectives in your work, especially if the youth group falls under your mandate and with respect to transitions from the children's program to the youth program. Consider inviting youth advisors and youth to serve on the local religious education committee or act as consultants on specific projects.


Communication between Board, Religious Education, and Youth Leadership (p.12-13)
Time and time again in our research we heard stories of youth advisors who felt overwhelmed by the lack of communication between youth and adults. The lack of consistent and healthy communication between youth leadership, district and local youth advisors and district and local boards and religious education committees is a large issue for all involved, at times creating feelings of animosity and distrust. Youth Advisors can end up as the only communication channel between youth and adults. Yet religious educators, board members, youth, and adults all want the same basic thing. They all want youth to feel connected to Unitarian Universalism on a personal level. They all want youth to learn how to live our Unitarian Universalist values. They all want youth to grow into caring, compassionate, responsible adults. The issues, we feel, arise in how each person sees these shared goals being realized, and in a lack of understanding on all sides. Creating trust with youth isn't the same as with adults. It requires much more intentional outreach on the part of adults. Yet it isn't that difficult to develop healthy lines of communication, and create forums where disagreements can be discussed in respectful, caring ways. We heard examples of how some very simple steps have created better relationships between district youth and adult leadership. All of these examples included creating personal connections between youth and youth advisors and other adult leadership and educating each other about their respective needs and communication styles. The potential for transforming district youth programming for the better through intentional outreach is enormous. Recommendation to District and Local Boards, Religious Education Committees, and Youth Program Leadership: Examine communication lines among the leadership in your district or congregation. How do you hear each others' voices? How are issues around youth programming resolved? How can you increase understanding and communication before there is a problem? How can you involve each other in events such as youth conferences, religious education meetings, board meetings, and congregational or district events? Look at the steps and processes described in the "Youth and Adult Leadership Communication Building" pamphlet, and see how you can change how you look at each other to create a stronger youth program, congregation, and district. Consider creating youth seats on boards and religious education committees. Consider creating formal liaisons between organizations.


Five Ways To Work Towards Stronger Youth/Adult Congregational Connections
The Youth Advisor Task Force, 29 Pearl St., San Francisco, CA 94103; 2000

This was created by the Youth Advisor Task Force, and is available on their web site. However, it was not included in the Report. 1) Have a meeting with the RE leadership, minister(s), board president, youth leader(s) and youth advisor(s). Possible discussion topics: What are the positive things happening in the youth program? How is youth involvement important to congregational life as a whole? What events in the next year are coming up? How can youth be involved? How can we support each other as leaders in this congregation? 2) Have individual church leaders meet with the youth group. Possible discussion topics: Why did you take leadership in this church? What does leadership give you? What does your faith mean to you? Where you raised UU? What are your big questions about UUism? What is your role in the congregation? Why is it difficult? 3) Have one or two church leaders attend a youth group event. Schedule in advance, and have a topic for discussion like friendship that applies to all equally. Have the church leader be an active participant, not a leader. 4) Have the youth group meet with the social action committee. Perhaps start by having a representative from the social action committee meet first with the youth group. Create a joint social action project around an issue that excites the youth (GLBT rights, homeless youth, environment, racism, etc.). 5) Have a joint meeting of the RE Committee, Board, Ministers, and Youth/Adult Committee (or youth leaders and advisors). Possible discussion topics: What is your vision of the future of this congregation? How can this congregation better live out our faith in how we interact with the greater community (social action, etc.) What do you need from your faith community? What can you give? How can youth feel like an integral part of this faith community?


Youth Advisor Selection Process
(Youth Advisor Task Force Report 2000, p.12) Youth advisors serve a very delicate and important role, yet when you ask advisors how they were selected, too often you hear, "Well, I guess I was the one who said yes." We feel that this dynamic needs to change in order for our youth programs to be healthy for all involved. Not just anyone can be a good youth advisor, and too many times youth advisors are chosen by either the religious educator or the youth with little or no involvement by the other party. This creates a situation in which youth advisors start their work in a place of tension, increasing the likelihood that not only will youth advisors feel uncomfortable, but also that any concerns about their work are more difficult to address. Youth should have an active role in choosing their own youth advisor, but should not bear the full responsibility of recruiting youth advisors. The best way for youth to be involved is to be on or form a committee to recruit their own youth advisors. We recommend that voices on this committee include the religious educator, several youth, parents, ministers, and various lay leaders of the congregation, and possibly a long-term quality youth advisor if appropriate. This would enable all to take an active role in every step and interview all potential candidates. It also shows the congregation that it is a privilege to work with youth and that it takes someone special to do youth work, and is a way of saying we respect our youth and their youth advisors enough to choose only the most qualified people for the job. Another way to ensure that everyone's expectations are being met is for youth to do a half year review with their youth advisors. That would be a time to discuss how things are going with the group and everyone could talk about how they feel and suggest ways to solve any problems that have arisen. Getting different constituencies involved will lead to greater understanding of youth advisors' work and the responsibilities of all involved. We also hope that congregations will have teams of youth advisors to prevent burnout and foster a sense of community among the youth advisors as well as the youth. Recommendations to Local Religious Educators and Youth Group Leadership: Form a youth advisor search committee to determine next youth advisor, even if you have a youth advisor or youth advisors who intend on continuing the next year. Make sure youth are on the committee and play as active a role as possible. Schedule a mid-year review of youth advisor, and include input from youth, parents, religious educator, and minister(s).

Support for Ministry with Youth (p.15)
The average tenure for committed youth advisors is 18 months, according to the Youth Office, largely because youth advisors can feel isolated and also overwhelmed by the often intense demands of their role. The range of challenges faced by youth advisors in ministering to individuals while supporting the cohesion of a sometimes volatile mix of components that comprise a youth group is extraordinarily broad. On top of this challenge, there are the issues of leadership development, building meaningful community, spiritual and personal development, group process, working for social justice, and helping youth lead curriculum. Youth advisors often feel isolated in their congregation, and there are few support systems for most youth advisors. Advisors have a very important role in the life of the youth of our

congregations, and often support youth through difficult times in their lives. Religious educators and parish ministers often lack a comprehensive understanding of youth needs and youth empowerment. They are often untrained in supporting the work of advisors, which are rooted in challenges very different from those typically addressed by parish ministers and religious educators. One youth advisor told us that when she asked for support from her religious educator, she was told "Oh, you're great at this! I know you'll figure it out!" While it is great to have support in the form of encouragement, many youth advisors need more. While we recognize that the reality for many congregations is that they feel they are unable to have more than one youth advisor, we strongly encourage that a youth group have at least two youth advisors. This creates continuity, provides healthier transitions, and provides youth advisors with automatic support and opportunity for self-reflection. We found that many youth advisors, religious educators, and youth were frustrated by the fact that youth advisors are often seen as inseparable from the youth group. Problems with youth advisors are seen as problems with the youth group, and vice-versa. Youth advisors need to be seen as their own constituency, with the need for individual support beyond support for the youth group. "It takes a congregation to support a youth advisor" is one of the jokes we made as we looked at these recommendations, yet it is also a very serious reality. Youth advisors need, and deserve, support from many different people — religious educators, parish ministers, other youth advisors, district and continental UUA staff, youth leaders, and parents. Yet part of the problem is that those people do not themselves know how to support their youth advisor. These recommendations attempt to address the many different sides of supporting youth advisors.

Acknowledging Youth Advisors (p.16)
We found that youth advisors often feel they are not acknowledged for their work. We feel that an important part of affirming the value of youth advising is acknowledging advisors' worth in a public way. A congregation could have a recognition service for youth advisors, for while some congregations have ceremonies for religious education program volunteers, youth advisors are not always invited to participate in a meaningful way. Parish ministers could talk from the pulpit about the youth program. Youth advisors could be asked to participate in a service, sharing their experiences in working with youth. On the continental level, although there is a Youth Advisor of the Year award, few people nominate youth advisors, and the award recipient is not widely publicized. We know of no districts with an award for youth advisors. We feel that these awards are an opportunity to recognize not only one youth advisor, but also the work of ministering to and with youth. Such awards are also a chance to publicize a success story from which other youth advisors can learn. Recommendation to Local Religious Education Committees and Parish Ministers: Brainstorm and examine ways in which you can annually publicly acknowledge the work of youth advisors. If you have a ceremony honoring religious education volunteers, find ways to include youth advisors. Make sure the congregation knows who has given their time and why it is so important. Consider having the youth advisors speak from the pulpit about their work.


Youth Advisor Advisory Committee (p.16-17)
Congregations can support their own youth advisors by starting a youth advisor "advisory" committee to act as an in-house support system for the youth advisors. This committee could give youth advisors input on their concerns, support them in dealing with issues they confront in their work, or invite them to supper at a member's home so they can stay connected to others in the congregation. This group could function in many ways as a committee on ministry does for a minister, giving honest feedback to youth advisors and supporting them as they grow in their role. Youth advisors who have such a committee speak in glowing terms of the difference this supportive group can make in their growth as healthy youth advisors. Some of the issues that can lead to burn-out — lack of self-care, difficulty in handling hard youth group situations, feeling of disconnect from the congregation — can be eased by having an intentionally created support system. We feel this is especially useful for situations in which a congregation has only one youth advisor or has a paid youth programs coordinator, but would be quite valuable for all youth advisors. Recommendation to local Youth Adult Committees or Religious Education Committees: Examine how your congregation supports its youth advisors. Consider creating a Youth Advisor Advisory Committee. If this is not possible, consider other ways you can create a support system for your youth advisors — regular meetings with the parish minister, religious educator, or other skilled person and a designated person to receive comments about the work of youth advisors in order to give them feedback on their work, or whatever would work best in your congregation.

Involving Other Adults in the Youth Program (p.17)
Many leaders in congregations carry plates piled high with commitments and responsibilities, and active youth advisors epitomize this. They are all but buried by commitments: youth group meetings, overnights, conferences, service projects, special events, damage control, church politics, and so on. The Youth Advisor Task Force realizes that to be a youth advisor, a certain amount of knowledge and natural ability are required. However, to simply be involved and support youth and their youth advisors, one need not be an expert. Often youth advisors are happy to work with other adults not usually affiliated with the youth group in order to do a special project or event. Many adults within a congregation might feel that they would like to have a better connection to the youth, but are reluctant or unable to commit themselves to long term responsibility. People often erroneously assume that they must commit to being with youth every week or they shouldn't be there at all. Helping with a specific project may be more concrete and manageable for such people, especially if it coincides with the person's interests or talents. Getting other adults involved can benefit everyone and help build bridges between the youth program and other groups within the congregation. Recommendation to Local Religious Educators, Local Youth Leadership, Youth Advisors, and Youth Adult Committees: Evaluate ways other adults could be involved in projects or events with the youth group. Screen and recruit congregational adults, and pair each with an established, trusted youth advisor who can support the other adult in developing rapport with the youth, establishing boundaries, and planning the activity. Some ideas might include:

• •

Facilitating a workshop on creative writing, sexuality, drug addiction, college selection, conflict management, eating disorders, church history, chalice making, or some other topic or project in which both the youth and the adult are interested. Attending or helping the youth plan an overnight camping trip, rafting trip, or other event in which an additional adult would be helpful.

Parish Ministers Supporting Youth Advisors (p. 19-20)
Youth Advisors are practicing a form of ministry, which is important work and must be supported. It is important for ministers to have a working understanding of what it is to practice healthy ministry with youth. In an ideal world, ministers and youth advisors would work side by side, but unfortunately, there is often a gap between the main body of a congregation and its youth group. Youth ministry is often overlooked. This is distressing because youth are part of the congregation and have energy and insight to contribute. If ministers and youth advisors could work together to close the gap between a congregation and its youth group, the dynamics between youth advisors and ministers, youth and ministers, and youth and other congregants will improve. Parish ministers, much like youth advisors, are under a great deal of pressure to show people the perspective of others, and have a lot of responsibility, yet often little power. They can be perceived as indifferent to youth, but have much that they can offer youth and youth advisors. They have a great deal of knowledge in ministering to adults, but part of the trouble is that most parish ministers are not prepared to apply this knowledge to ministering to youth and youth advisors. They are trained to empower lay people, but not to apply empowerment to work with youth. This makes it difficult for them to support youth advisors in their work. If youth work was part of seminary curriculum, ministers would be better equipped to become involved with the younger members of their congregation later on, and also have firsthand knowledge of what is it to work with youth. Our research showed that youth advisors need support from their ministers. If more ministers had training and experience with youth, they would have more of the tools they need to become involved in a positive and constructive way. One effective way a minister can become involved and visible in the youth community is to serve as chaplain at a local or district youth conference. This would provide youth and ministers an opportunity to talk in a casual setting about what is on their minds. It would also be an opportunity for ministers to participate in youth worships, which are generally quite different from most Sunday services, and give ministers hands-on experience with youth empowerment. Ministers in a district could take turns serving as conference chaplain to give each an opportunity to participate, rather than have the same minister serve in that role continuously.

Pastoral Care of Youth (p.20-21)
Because of the nature of the deep sharing that is encouraged in youth groups, youth advisors often find themselves emotionally supporting troubled youth. While many youth advisors intuitively do this work well, most have no formal training in therapy, counseling, or pastoral care. Youth advisors can also find themselves supporting parents of the youth group members as well. While it is important that the pastoral needs of youth and parents are met, it can put an undue burden on youth advisors to do that work.

Parish ministers, however, are trained in pastoral care, and can be resources not only to youth advisors but also to youth. Yet parish ministers are not trained specifically in pastoral care to youth. We feel that because of this, ministers are an untapped resource for youth advisors. There are a variety of ways to address this gap in knowledge, and we recommend changes ranging from more training in seminaries to the creation of a Youth Ministry Seminary track. We know of people interested in going into Youth Ministry, and of congregations interested in hiring a Youth Minister, yet there is no present track at our seminaries to fill that need. We feel the idea deserves some research.

Networks of Mentors to Youth Advisors (p.24)
Burnout is a tremendous problem among youth advisors. Youth advisors face a wide range of challenges in ministering to healthy, well-adjusted youth. The demands of troubled individuals and youth in conflict with their families are greater still. Most youth advisors have no one knowledgeable in the unique challenges of youth advising to turn to within their congregations for mentoring and support. While we hope that in the future ministers can play part of this role, in many congregations they unable to do so. Those youth advisors who have access to other youth advisors in their districts usually see them in the context of the distracting work of advising a conference or the limited experience of a training with many people, which only last a few hours. Most committed youth advisors hunger for mentoring and support by someone with the experience and skills to do so effectively. We feel that a key to building a strong, safe, sustainable youth program must include experienced, trained mentors who have the concrete experience of being a youth advisor and can support youth advisors in developing healthy boundaries. This is especially critical in the context of our youth programs, which require a different depth of personal growth by youth advisors than is required by religion education teachers. Our other recommendations address other needs of youth advisors, including local support, training, resources, staffing, and training of religious educators and ministers. We feel, however, that there is an element of need that can be addressed only by a comprehensive mentoring system for youth advisors. The skills required to support a youth program are different from those needed to support youth advisors themselves. A mentoring system may also reduce the potential liability faced by our youth programs . To meet this need, we strongly recommend the creation of a formal mentoring system in districts. This would include a district effort to gather potential mentors; a formal and comprehensive application process, including screening; regional or continental training in mentoring skills; and staff support for the mentoring network. This recommendation is an outline of a timeline for a network such as we envision.


Young Adults and Unitarian Universalism From the Post High School Survival Kit, Youth Office The late Eighties and early Nineties brought a lot of talk about young adults (those aged 18-35) and their needs in the greater UU community. Even before the UUA was established, considerable research was done to establish programming for college-aged UUs. That work faltered in the Seventies and early Eighties, however, causing a 12 percent drop in young adult UUs. It's not a surprising statistic when you consider that today only about 5 percent of UU congregations have programming for young adults. Many of the troubles that young adults face in the world of UUism are not solely because our congregations haven't gotten involved. The fluidity of life as a young adult has hindered the development of any programming. It is a process of searching for self. It is this lack of RE programs, conferences, and peer groups that cause almost 95 percent of UUs to drop out of the church and district during their college and young adults years. However, we have begun to take control of our religious faith by asserting our needs and finding people and programming that satisfy those needs. Service the needs of UU young adults has been a struggle that the youth and adults in our churches and the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) have been wrestling with for years. Now, with the Young Adult Ministries (YAMs) offices at the UUA, the Continental UU Young Adult Network (C*UUYAN), and dedicated YRUU high school graduates, the future looks bright. More and more YRUUers are entering the young adult world with the energy and motivation to increase involvement and accessibility. Remember, the very principles the UU faith is based upon dictate that no one should be excluded from participating in activities billed as UU. We encourage including non-UUs in all your plans. WE are not an evangelical faith. WE want to provide all people a non-threatening environment to think about liberal, tough, and emotional issues. Each person should have plenty of room to define their self and their personal theology. As you read this, keep in mind the struggle that UUs are going through to keep young adults a viable, enthusiastic part of the church. Keep the faith. BRIDGING Bridging acknowledges the transition from "youth" to "young adult." There is a ceremony at General Assembly each year in which graduating youth are welcomed by young adults. On district levels, this is a transition out of the youth programs, a saying "good-bye" to peers and friends. The conscious welcoming of youth into the connections and programming for young adults will come only as this becomes more developed. Contact your District Office for information on Bridging in your area. Bridging Ceremony Resource Packet is available from the Young Adult/Campus Ministry Office ($15). In addition to bridging and "graduation" acknowledgements from the local congregation, please assist youth to stay as they move into young adult programs. Some suggestions are given in "How to Stay Connected," which is directed to the youth.


HOW TO STAY CONNECTED Adapted from the Post High School Survival Kit There are many ways that you can stay connected with other young adults around the continent. All you have to do is take the time to make those ways happen for you. 1. Get Synapse. YRUU's newsletter. It is a wonderful way to see what's happening with UUs around the continent. To subscribe, send the Youth Office your name address, and date of birth. If you already get Synapse, make sure the Youth Office has your current address. 2. Get Connexion. C*UUYAN's newsletter. This newsletter will keep you posted on what this grassroot organization is doing. Stay connected with older young adult UUs, learn about their issues and concerns, and their conferences like Opus. 3. Get Ferment, Young Adult Ministries' publication. It's published three times a year with the intent "to provide a forum for the 'excited and agitated' voices of UU young adults as they observe our denomination and our world.." To subscribe, Young Adult Ministries. Subscriptions are free to UUs ages 18-35 and $10 to all others. 4. Get The World, the UUA's bi-monthly magazine. Though many of the articles are geared toward older members of our community, it is full of interesting, insightful articles that deepen our understanding of the UU faith. It keeps up with the goings-on of the UUA. UU camps, jobs, groups, and trips advertise in the World. To subscribe, make checks payable to The World and mail to World, UUA General Lock Box # 5971 Boston, MA 02206-5971. 5. Go on-line. The UUA, C*UUYAN, and YRUU each have official and unofficial web pages. The UUA homepage can be found at Some districts and churches offer web pages with current information about upcoming events. Both C*UUYAN and YRUU offer a listserve. To subscribe to UUYAN-L, send the following message to listserve@TerraLuna.Org: Subscribe UUYAN-L To subscribe to the YRUU list send the following message to Subscribe yruu-l FIRST NAME LAST NAME 6. Get the newsletter from your local church. If you didn't move after high school just get your name on your church's mailing list. If you are in a new place, check the phone book or ask the UUA for the name/address of a church in your area. The newsletter often announces events that may not be advertised anywhere else. 7. Join Church of the Larger Fellowship (CLF), an organization based in the UUA that sends out sermons, a newsletter, and other religious information for its members. It's great for UUs far from home. CLF has a special rate for college students that includes eight issues of the newsletter and a subscription to the World. CLF can be contacted through the UUA. 8. Pick up the phone and call somebody. C*UUYAN can be contacted through YAMs office. The YRUU Youth Office is also available as a resource. The Youth Office is open 9 - 5 EST, Monday through Friday. Their number is (617) 742-2100 x351 x352. 9. Join an organization. There are a number of special interest groups affiliated with the UUA. While they are not specifically young adult oriented, they are a fabulous way to do something for a cause you believe in and meet other UUs. Get information about these groups on the back of the Post High School Survival Kit available through the Youth Office. 10. Hit Opus. Conferences are one of the best parts of YRUU. Just because you aren't a part of your home church youth group doesn't mean your touch group days are over. Apart from the continental events like Con Con and General Assembly that you can still attend, C*UUYAN hosts their annual conference, Opus. Each August young adult UUs gather to meet other young adult UUs from around the continent, and form a spiritual community." 11. Other interest groups. Every congregation offers some special groups. Go to a discussion group or a cooking class. It doesn't have to be young adult oriented to be fun.


Miracles By Drake Baer The following sermon was delivered on January 25, 1996 at the Unitarian Church of Princeton, NJ, and on June 21, 1996 at General Assembly as the advisor winner of the "Youth Focus Sermon Contest." I´d like the adults who are here this morning to take a moment to reconnect to your adolescence. Close your eyes and remember who you were as a teenager, what you looked like, where you lived. Your parents. Who were your friends? How did you feel about them, and how sure were you that they liked you? Did you like yourself? Remember an especially embarrassing moment. Remember a moment of great victory. How did you express it? Did you have problems with authority? What was your faith journey like? If you thought about it, what was God like for you? When I was 15 and facing a life that seemed more horrible than I had the courage or resources to bear, I needed a miracle. Unfortunately, I didn´t know any Unitarian Universalists, and all I knew about them was that they didn´t believe in anything. But there were plenty of born-again Christians running around offering salvation. Yes. Salvation. The salvation they offered me was real, not shallow or contrived. When I asked the Holy Spirit to come into my life, the visceral feeling of something more powerful than I had imagined pouring down my spine was probably like what the Hindus call "shakti pa," which is their equivalent to baptism in the Holy Spirit, or what some shrinks call a gestalt, which is theirs. The next year-and-a-half of my life was magical. When I returned to school after the summer of my transformation, some of my friends didn´t recognize me at first. Living in the presence of love that I absolutely believed in brought true miracles into my life almost every day. Most of the time, I could clearly distinguish between my subtly destructive impulses and that part of intuition which translates the voice of God. Of course, it´s after your big miracle that the real work begins, and I worked hard, though everything was much easier than before: building community with people who accepted me, finding courage, developing integrity, building an original, selfsustaining inner life. At 34, I know I found the best part of my soul at the age of 15, through a subversive act of faith in a community that believed in transformation. My faith was subversive: it separated me from the expectations and even the values of my non-believing parents, and it allowed me to penetrate, for the first time, the membrane of defenses that kept me from fully engaging others with my truest inner self. But, the community that made my miracle possible had hooks. It required faith in a story of literal resurrection and magic words that eventually tore through my sense of intellectual integrity, making me question the validity of my most essential truths in dark moments that grew in frequency and intensity as time went on. Our concept of God was encapsulated in the word "Love," which was true for me. And though my community would never admit it, our concept of Satan seemed encapsulated in the word, "Why," which did not ring true. I remember the queasy feeling in my gut when I read the story of creation a second time, this time noticing that the damning apple Satan offered Eve, the apple which drove us from the Garden of Eden and made all of us sinners from birth in need of salvation, came from the tree of knowledge. I suppose that any community offering miracles also has compromising hooks. Perhaps that´s why the wise have long counseled, "If you meet the Buddha in the road, kill him."


But, I was as devout as anyone I knew. I read the Bible cover-to-cover during that year-and-ahalf, and I prayed to God every night, even during those dark times, to save me from the devil´s intellectual seductions. I´ll never forget the moment when the devil won. When I finally chose to face the fact that the miracle which made me whole carried hooks that threatened to destroy me, I called my minister, to whom I was very close, and explained that I was no longer a born-again Christian. That I was not back-sliding, but sliding forward and away. He came over to my house, we talked intensely. He cried. And he finally said, "You know that if you were suddenly in an accident and knew you had two seconds to live, you would ask Christ´s forgiveness rather than risk eternity in hell" I had to say to this man and this community that had loved me as I needed to be loved: No, I would not. If living in hell is the price to pay for truthfulness, I´m willing to pay. And I did, for awhile . . . . The tornado swept into our lives at the beginning of last year. I called him that because, at 15 he seemed to sweep up everything in his path into a creative chaos that often left some wreckage behind. Youth group had come into its own the year before and was a powerful place in the lives of many of our youth when he came along. Our youth really got the mutual respect thing, truly accepted each other in unself-conscious ways, and we had a nearly 100% attendance rate on Sunday mornings and at overnights. Like everyone in our group, the tornado brought his own yin and yang with him, both of which were unusually powerful. Opening circles were constantly interrupted by his smart-alecky comments and frequently disrespectful attitude, which made our space less safe for some people. His consistent openness, commitment, and originality made a wonderful imprint on our community but, frankly, he was a major pain in the ass. For good reason. Among his other problems, his father had died a year-and-a-half before, and he had been unable to cry even once since before it happened. He was on his fourth psychiatrist since then, whom, like the others, he didn´t trust or connect with. And every phone call I took from him at home, including those at 2:00 in the morning when he was struggling with despair, no matter how poignant and meaningful those discussions were, ended with, "You're ugly." Click. That's how he ended every call. I was hesitant about taking him along with us to his first district conference last year, in Connecticut. Many of our youth make themselves vulnerable at those conferences in a way that requires a lot from attendees: mutual respect, openness, a willingness to respect the guidelines. Several of our youth went over the importance of mutual respect with the tornado prior to the conference and explained that the youth running it took the guidelines seriously and would send him home early if he broke the rules. And so, reluctantly and worriedly, I brought him with us. People are rounded up for various activities at these cons by someone banging a big gong, and I heard the tornado complaining about this "obnoxious" gong Friday night. Sure enough, Saturday morning, the gong was missing. I was furious, and ran off to find him. There, in the main gathering area, was the tornado, clapping rhythmically, as others joined him to form a circle which grew with centrifugal force. As people gathered, the tornado went into the circle, danced around, did some acrobatics, invited other people into the circle to express themselves, which they did, and that is how we have gathered people at our cons ever since. The tornado managed to offend some people that Saturday but he really started to get it, what being part of a loving community requires. Saturday night's worship was amazing. Like all of the most powerful worship services I've experienced, this was developed and run by a YRUUer. After chanting a song and filing into the


chapel with candles, we had a Quaker sharing circle. The tornado shared that he learned that weekend that no one is ugly, by which of course he meant he learned that he wasn't ugly. He shared profoundly for a couple of minutes and ended by saying, ". . . And I'm doing something I haven't done in a long time. I'm crying." All the hours we had spent with the tornado making it safe to just cry, and the thousands of dollars his mom had spent on psychiatrists had been unsuccessful because the tornado needed more than a good shrink or a mentor/friend who would share his journey for awhile. What the tornado needed was a miracle. And our liberal religious institution, so comfortable with the gods of ambiguity, gave the tornado that miracle. The next part of the worship was Sufi dancing, in which people pair up holding up their hands against the others and moving in a circle around each other while singing, "All I ask of you is forever to remember me as loving you . . . . All I ask of you is forever to remember me as loving you . . . . " Then each person spins off singing the Sufi words in Arabic, and on to the next person. I saw youth after youth, representing all the normally segregated cliques one finds in a high school, from artsy types to macho jocks, holding the tornado, many of them crying with him. He cried for hours. The hard part starts after your miracle. But it's been a good kind of difficult for Brian these past months. The first full marking period after his miracle, he was taken off academic probation for the first time in two years. At the Princeton con, during an advisor meeting, some advisors were talking about how caring the Princeton youth are for each other, especially that kid with the crazy hair, who had ministered so well and so consistently to youth he didn't even know when they seemed alienated or out of sorts. These advisors couldn't believe it when I said that six months before he was so disruptive. I mentioned Brian's name because when I asked him if I could use his story anonymously, he asked that I identify him to you. Because Brian is not just a member of YRUU. He's a member of our church community who has the courage to contribute to our vitality by being open about who he really is. In some ways, adults of the religious right understand youth and the miraculous better than we of the religious left. One of the things they understand is that miracles require courage and a tolerance of risk on the part of everyone they touch. Let me offer you a simple formula: where X represents vital youth ministry and Y represents potential problems, X equals Y. But religious conservatives also understand that miracles offer everyone in the community a reminder of what is best about the principles and faith behind the community. Not many places in society sanction the miraculous. And with every generation of youth, the need for the miraculous seems to increase. Fundamentalist religion and cults understand this. So do drug dealers. As a result, both groups are doing well with youth these days. When will we understand it? And how do we, as a religion rooted in principles rather than creeds and other magic words, countenance it? Our youth group attended Utne Reader´s Vision Fest last year, in which 40 people identified by the magazine as "visionaries of the emerging culture" answered the question, "Where Do You See the Darkness and Where Do You See the Light?" Each of the panelists, ranging from Maya Angelou to Michael Lerner to Quentin Crisp (even Bill Bennet was there, believe it or not), had two minutes to answer that question in a blitzkrieg of inspiration and perspective that left me staggering out of the theater in a state of marvelous neural overload. But only two words have stayed with me. "Radical Amazement." I don´t remember the context in which Communitarian thinker Amitai Etzoni used that phrase, but after years of trying to explain my faith to my more sensible friends, I finally had words for what distinguished me as a believer in the miraculous: Radical Amazement-at the magic in the world; at the transformative power of love; at the synergies that happen when people just say no to cowardly engagement with each other and


somehow summon the crazy faith that you can love as you need to love, respect as you need to respect and commit as you need to commit without compromising who you really are. As I sat between two of our youth at this event, I realized that YRUU, through disciplined principles of youth empowerment that distinguish it from any other youth movement I´m aware of, make the embrace of Radical Amazement possible with an integrity I needed as a teenager but didn´t find until I found UUism. Saying that no UU youth will have to choose between spiritual and intellectual integrity is a fine thing, but it is also an easy thing, and not enough. If we, the educated, sensible grownups, truly believed that our principles offered youth in need of a miracle the power of salvation, Unitarian Universalism would be growing at least as fast as Fundamentalism and the drug culture, and our churches world be even more vital places than they are. I´ve asked many former YRUUers why they think so many of our youth leave Unitarian Universalism after high school. One thing I hear a lot is a sense of anticlimax in visiting UU churches as adults. I hear that in YRUU, one feels constantly surrounded by a kind of empowering love and acceptance that can make many places within the larger UU community seem almost barren by contrast. There are many valid reasons for the diminished intensity of connection and meaning many former YRUUers experience in the post-adolescent UU community. Each period of life offers us special gifts for the process of connecting with the miraculous in each other through Unitarian Universalism, but adolescence is uniquely fertile ground. Maybe it´s the alienation so many teenagers of this generation feel in relation to each other. Or the open-mindedness, and porous set of defenses adolescence seems to encourage. The fact is, our unique UU principles, and the kinds of individuals drawn to our community, have generated the most potentially powerful religious institution I can imagine for empowering youth. There are more youth who have experienced transformation through liberal religion truthfully and powerfully shaping itself in YRUU than most adult UUs realize. And that´s a shame. And it goes both ways. Two years ago, I got a call from someone who told me he accidentally attended Youth Sunday, which he has always avoided, because he forgot to read the service announcement the week before. He said it was the only service at our church that moved him to tears. And he didn´t know why. But he was surprised that this source of inspiration and power was part of his religious community. I have been fed tremendously by the adults of our community and was a committed UU for years before I became a youth advisor. But like so many advisors, my commitment to YRUU is rooted in amazement at what our youth have taught me about the power of liberal religion. It has been our youth who have reminded me most consistently that in growing beyond the restraints of creed-based religion, I did not have to grow beyond living in the presence of the miraculous. And what I have learned by working with these people has enhanced my resources for relating to my peers. But as an advocate for our youth, I advocate for a group of people marginalized from the centers of power in society at large and in our congregation. The sexton has told me several times that our youth clean up better than many adult groups in our church after events. Most of you didn´t even know we had a 3-day 120-person youth conference here in October. And yet, whenever there´s a minor problem, and, knock on wood, they´ve been minor problems this year, adults who hear about them seem to give them more attention than they would give comparable problems generated by adults. Even here in the land of Political Correctness, where we can be painfully conscious of language that marginalizes and offends other minorities, we routinely use language like "responsible adult" to underscore our distrust of a culture, youth culture, with traditions and orientations that often seem alienating and threatening to us grown ups, who, for better or worse, define the terms of power in our churches. As a multi-generational religious


community, we Unitarian Universalists have come a long way since the re-birth of our youth movement 15 years ago. But we have a long way to go. A long way. I encourage you to seize the opportunity our youth offer you to fulfill the promises of our UU principles. To acknowledge the inherent worth and dignity of every individual, including youth. To understand that ministering to youth requires reaching out to another culture, using a different set of tools than we use to minister to adults, and to value those tools as we value the others. Our youth will help you learn to tolerate and celebrate the differences between our adult culture and theirs, to engage them, and perhaps to be transformed by what you learn. Just as rational integrity by itself can limit our experience of the miraculous, so our adultcentrism limits our experience of what youth can teach us about community and spirituality. The next time you find yourself bristling at the inconveniences, expense and risks that youth ministry requires us to assume; the next time you find yourself reluctant to engage one of our possibly wild-haired and body-pierced youth in conversation or to accept him as a full member of our church community, I would gently challenge you with one of God´s most sacred words. A word which birthed our Unitarian and Universalist traditions and which often finds its least compromised, most miraculous, and, yes, most crazy-making expression in adolescence. I offer you this morning the word, "Why?"


Homily by Karina Kramer-Schevers The following homilies were delivered on June 22, 1996 at the GA 1996 Worship Service, "The Future is Now", as part of the 1996 GA Youth Focus. When I was nine years old, my parents took me to a toaster-shaped concrete building that had teal slit windows, like jewel tone eels, on the larger walls and floor-to-ceiling glass as the other two. Hanging down like the hem of a great mother´s skirt were earth-colored banners, and in back of the podium hung an art piece of stretched wool that looked like pale distant mountains. The building was not ugly, it was distinctly unusual. "This is a church?" I asked my mom. About a year later, I remember having a pep talk with God. I don´t remember the problem, but I hurried to the secret hang-out next to my house, behind the big climbing pine, and pressed my dirtied child palms on the brick wall and had a fairly rational one-on-one with what I thought was God; somebody who could see the whole thing and was, of course, on my side. Very soon after that I gave up the idea of God. I think I had wanted the feeling of comfort and understanding that others seem to possess when they said they believe in God, but already I was questioning the system, seeing blind followers come up short of satisfying answers, and begging to swim upstream. I was eccentric and creative, and whether it was painful and lonely at times or not, I was an individual. In fifth grade when I expressed my views on God, I was called a Satan worshiper on the school steps. I turned to the little punk that called me that and said, "NO, I´m a Unitarian." Yet it was because my parents made me that I attended Sunday School. Church wasn´t cool. The cool kids didn´t like Sunday School. Why did I have to go to school on the weekends? But secretly, hidden deep in my consciousness, like pennies lost in the sofa cushion cracks, I liked Sunday School, or at least began to, because when my church mentor asked me if AYS was any better, I almost slipped and told him I kind of liked it. My feeling about church became a mild love-hate relationship. I enjoyed most of the stuff we were doing, but it didn´t seem like I should like it. I loved the Boston Bound trip, but I didn´t want to tell people at school who I had gone with. At least in my head, I was a hip kid, I wasn´t a Kum-ba-ya singin´, prim and proper church girl. And though I knew that I was a Unitarian Universalist, I didn´t know what that meant. My Sunday School class was the first Coming of Age group at the Unitarian Church of Evanston. I admit, we had little idea of what an honor this is; being educated and asked to define our UU beliefs through our actions, then being welcomed into the congregation as voting members. There was a packet listing requirements, offering choices on how to complete the needed work. One of the choices was Spin YRUU conference at the North Shore Church in Deerfield. What I distinctly remember about the conference is the sting of vinegar from the cuts on my hands when I set the color of my tie-dyed shirt, being little and girlishly skinny, playing wink and almost losing my elastic-waist pants, laying down on the chapel floor to create a human peace sign. It was an experience full of energy and pulse, drastic highs and lows, honesty and intensity, hugging with my entire body, smiling with my whole face. I was immediately addicted to YRUU. I spent my high school years growing up and coming out of myself and into the world with the support and guidance of YRUU. A conference was a brilliant shining weekend like an eclipse, anxiously anticipated, full of meaning, too bright to stare directly at the significance of what was happening at the time, and recalled and replayed


long after. Every conference burned an after image of compassion and friendship, love and community into the backs of my eyes until I wanted to be someone who maintained and assisted the rituals. I worked to become a leader in my youth group and I ran for YAC. I was the District Newsletter Editor for two years and the YAC Vice President for a year. I also served as the Youth Representative of the Religious Education Board for my church for four years. It was a blessed endless circle; when I established myself as a leader, I gave back to the community. When I worked to better YRUU, I felt better about myself. When my time in the Central Midwest District ended, I wasn´t finished with YRUU. I traveled to my second Con Con and located the nearest church to the college I now attend. When I showed up at the Fourth Universalist Society in Manhattan, I was like a wet paper towel about to shred and disintegrate. Having lived in New York City for only two weeks, I was already lonely and impatient for good friendships to form. After the first service, I found someone who would begin a college age group with me. I really needed my UU fix. But what does it all mean? Have I learned what a Unitarian Universalist is? What do I get out of this now that I rarely get to conferences? Somewhere along the way I figured out that I feel so wonderfully comfortable being with Unitarian Universalists because we have the same morals, and though our spirituality may differ, we can respect and learn from each other. I discovered that the God I spoke to as a child was me, that I was calling my darkness within to help me help myself, that I believe the Great Spirit, the Directions, the Goddess is within every person, but also that someone who does believe in God still has my respect, prayers, and blessings. Unitarian Universalism is accepting people as they are, giving basic respect to all beings, and being able to consider others´ beliefs to broaden perspective. It is strengthening the individual in order that many empowered individuals can form a loving and compassionate community. What I received from Sunday School and YRUU was courage to break my pin feathers in order that they could strengthen, so I could fly higher, viewing through the eyes of an eagle, striving to act in wisdom and beauty, learning to see what is essential and what will give me worry for nothing, setting my priorities morally, realizing that people are the most important thing and that we are all related, learning to be able to soar into myself in clear introspection, to be able to heal myself, to love myself, and to carry in my cradling claws, like the newly-birthed sun being set in the heavens, my dark glinting splinter of spirituality. Blessed be. Unreasonable Strength by Rachel L. Cole The following is an excerpt of a sermon delivered on June 21, 1996 at General Assembly as the youth winner of the "Youth Focus Sermon Contest." . . . I remember several low points, when I felt oppressed by my seemingly hopeless surroundings, and it became difficult to effectively serve the Saint Francis Inn´s guests. I knew that this despair came to others on the staff at times, but their methods for dealing with this depression, like so many of their daily experiences, were closely related to their faith in ways I did not feel I could imitate. To lessen the pain of seeing the disease of our neighborhood, my friends at least had some kind of formula to follow: say this prayer, go to confession, do ten rosaries, think of the glorious life that is sure to come eventually. I felt almost jealous of these traditions in which my community sought comfort, for even if their prayers did not visibly change the problems surrounding us, they had a plan, something to do. They had each taken a great leap to believe in their faith, and in doing so, seemed to have received some kind of grace that I did not understand, a grace which allowed them to depend upon the unprovable. The power of their faith allowed them to continue living despite despair. In fact, not only did they live, but they worked for their idealistic and impractical principles, the


kind that often seem only believable in a discussion groups setting because of the scarcity of encouragement and validation you get from daily life. While I did not wish to be zapped into a Catholic overnight, the trust I saw in them was enviable. Not only did they have their trust in what they believed, but they also had each other, living testaments to lives through a common faith. I felt helpless, and horribly alone. But I did not go home and give up. How could I? That would not change my hopelessness, and it certainly wouldn´t change the lives of the people of Kensington. Instead, I looked in the phone book, took the next Sunday off, and went to the local UU church, the First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia. I was greeted by familiar sights, but ones very different from those at the Inn. A small summerservice was taking place in the only air-conditioned room just like they do at my church, and it was being led by a member of the Worship Committee, a black woman who had never been to a seminary. There were candles and a chalice on a table in the front, a wide array of different kinds of people in the congregation, and Sweet Honey in the Rock was playing in the background. The woman´s sermon was on "The Dignity of Choice", in reference to the issue of abortion. Very, very different from the Catholics. Afterwards, as I walked through the city´s public parks with a wide smile on my face and a feeling of peace within me, I had to wonder what exactly it was about that service that had restored my equilibrium, giving me back my generally positive outlook in life. I compared what I had experienced at the UU church to my daily life at the Inn and tried to find the secret ingredient that had centered me so well. After considering all the usual explanations for the magic I had felt, I was left unsatisfied. Community and love were no more or less apparent at the Inn than at any UU function I´ve ever attended. The UUs I met could hardly be called more or less committed to their ideals than my Franciscan friends, and, though this may shock you, it wasn´t the usual UU value system that I missed, for I had even found several feminist, prochoice, gay-rights-touting pinkos among the Catholics. So what was it? Why was I so definitely a UU from birth despite my parents´ attempts at sending me to religious education classes in other faiths? If I looked at the experience purely logically, the seemingly bland set of values had given me unreasonable strength. Why this, apart from every other support in my life? My realization was this-that our faith, in its ability to give us mystical strength, is not different from any other faith; that it has power to inspire us and to support us and to connect us; that we have Principles whose sentiments we all hold dear, and by which we all try to lead our lives; that these shared Principles contain all the power we can tap from them, much like the power of a group of people standing together to sing one song, as we shall soon do today. I believe that the qualities in our Principles that I once called blandness and pure rationality are misleading, and that we have to realize this to tap the power of our faith. In truth, it is incredible that each of us have pledged to affirm and promote the worth and dignity in every person when there are so many people who make you want to write them off. In truth, it is no more logical to say that each of us should be trusted with our own search for truth and meaning, as we do, than to say that each of us is pre-destined to heaven or hell, as the Calvinism from which many of us fled dictates. Neither statement can be proved, but both greatly affect the lives of those who believe them. . . . For these acts of faith, I thank you. Not only have you changed the world, but you have shown me that it is possible for me to do so. This is the strength of UUism. The leap of faith that one UU takes in espousing what are truly amazing and illogical Principles not only gives him or her power to action, but gives the rest of us the courage needed to live out our ideals in the same way.


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