Within a safe and loving community, we help our youth grow up to be responsible and respectful members of the global community, able to act with compassion and to speak for justice.
Youth programs are offered to young people ages 12 – 19.
The youth program focuses on the 6 pillars of youth ministry: Building Community, Social Action, Worship, Learning, Leadership and Congregational Involvement.
Youth Group is youth-led with the support of the DLL and their Youth Advisors.
Building Community: The social aspect of youth programming, community building offers time to bond, share values, establish trust, generate intimacy and practice acceptance. It is the time we spend getting to know one another.
Social Action: One of the ways we, as Unitarian Universalists, express our faith in the world. This can take many forms, including service projects, witness events, advocacy campaigns, education, and community organizing. Doing social action as a youth group may be a single event during the year or longer-term engagement with certain issues.
Worship: An important and meaningful aspect of youth ministry, worship may take place as part of youth group gatherings, as non-traditional “circle worship,” or with youth involvement in weekly Sunday services. Some youth groups plan an entire Sunday service for their congregation every year.
Learning: Learning happens during many youth group events, whether they are social action, leadership, worship and even social gatherings. Curricula, discussions and skill-sharing sessions are also great opportunities for learning.
Leadership: Youth leadership takes many forms, from elected positions within a youth group and service on committees to taking on responsibility for individual projects or jobs. Making space for youth leadership gives youth the opportunity to learn to work together, facilitate, foster cooperation, and collaborate with others.
Congregational Involvement: Congregational involvement means having the opportunity to share one’s gifts with the congregation, connect across generations and participate in the life of the congregation – not just the youth group.
Youth in grade 7 – 9 will be participating in Our Whole Lives throughout the year mainly on Sundays. There are a few additional weekend activities throughout the year. We are proud to offer this program which is led by training facilitators.
The OWL program is a blessing for today’s parents concerned about teen sexuality. It is our belief that honest, accurate information about sexuality changes lives. It dismantles stereotypes and assumptions, builds self-acceptance and self-esteem, fosters healthy relationships, improves decision making, and has the potential to save lives. For these reasons and more, we are proud to offer Our Whole Lives (OWL), a comprehensive, lifespan sexuality education curricula for use in both secular settings and faith communities. Youth will need to enroll in the OWL program and parents should plan on attending a workshop in September. Check our Calendar.
This session quickly engages participants and establishes the Our Whole Lives (OWL) setting as a comfortable place to talk about even the toughest subjects. Participants craft rules to promote positive group interaction and mutual respect. They explore the Circles of Sexuality—a broad definition of sexuality—that will be refined and clarified throughout the program. They learn about the content, format, and underlying values of Our Whole Lives.
Through activities including an exciting Values Auction, participants clarify their own values, share points of view, and reflect on the strength of their values. They become familiar with and are asked to respect values held by others.
Participants explore the diversity of sexual language and its impact, usefulness, and appropriateness in different contexts. After building lists of terms for sexual anatomy and activity, participants consider the language they and others use against the values they explored in Workshop 2. Standards are set for language used in the Our Whole Lives setting.
This workshop reinforces accurate information and corrects misunderstanding about sexual anatomy and physiology. Participants learn that knowing and talking about sexual organs and their functions is both normal and appropriate.
Participants have an opportunity to talk about personal questions and concerns regarding their own growth and development. The session may explore accurate information, clear up myths, and/or provide answers to participants’ questions. In the process, participants become aware of diverse body types, sizes, behaviors, and rates of physical, emotional, and social development. Optional sex-specific discussion groups give youth an opportunity to talk about personal aspects of sexual health and hygiene with adults who have experienced puberty’s changes.
This workshop defines body image as a person’s perception of, attitudes toward, and feelings about their body. Participants explore societal influences on body image and learn how positive and negative body image can affect a person’s sexual attitudes, decision-making, and behaviors.
By building a chart defining biological sex, gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation, participants visualize the differences between sexual identity constructs. They have a chance to gain or deepen understanding of the ways biological sex, gender identity, and gender expression may align or not align for different people. In addition, they discuss some of the challenges faced by transgender people (themselves or others) while learning techniques that have helped people to feel empowered and to be supportive.
Participants explore their beliefs about gender-role expectations, and they critically evaluate gender-role messages they have received. They identify how stereotypes hurt people of all gender identities and learn steps they can take to overcome gender-role restrictions affecting themselves and others.
This workshop explores all sexual orientations but emphasizes lesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer (LGBQ) orientations due to the continuing existence of heterosexism (the assumption that everyone is or should be heterosexual), homophobia (bias against LGBQ people), and biphobia (aversion toward bisexuality and bisexual people). Participants gain knowledge and skills and explore attitudes that affirm the dignity and worth of people of all sexual orientations.
A guest panel deepens participants’ understanding of and empathy with people who face homophobia, heterosexism, biphobia, and/or transphobia. This workshop is one of the most healing activities Our Whole Lives educators can facilitate for youth. Interacting with individuals who are LGBTQ provides an opportunity to put real faces on the issue and to move beyond stereotypes. Panelists can also serve as role models for participants who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer or questioning.
All participants may benefit from this workshop: Participants without disabilities have an opportunity to gain understanding of and empathy for people with disabilities while recognizing that as sexual human beings, they share many commonalities. Participants with disabilities can appreciate their peers’ empathy toward them and acceptance of them as sexual beings. The workshop communicates the message that friendship and attraction are normal among and between people with and without disabilities.
Through a series of engaging activities and discussion, participants learn the basics of healthy relationships and begin to identify the characteristics of romantic partners who can support them in exploring and defining their identities, developing interpersonal skills, and gaining emotional support.
Scripted role plays in this workshop teach skills that prepare participants to be best friends and loving partners in lifelong commitments or marital relationships. Focused on listening, being assertive, and using refusal skills, the session can enhance all types of relationships.
Technology can enrich young teens’ knowledge and/or social relationships in safe, life-affirming ways if approached with care, information about available options, and an awareness of appropriate use. The workshop addresses both computer and cell phone use; however, the activities will not require that participants have either cell phones or access to a computer.
A great deal of bullying relates to sexuality. Young teens need to know how to recognize it and effectively respond to it, whether they are victims or bystanders. This workshop discusses indirect and direct bullying, debunks myths, and provides realistic solutions.
Participants explore the concept of abstinence, which is redefined as refraining from sexual intercourse (oral, anal, or vaginal), as well as skin-to-skin genital contact. This definition of abstinence excludes higher risk sexual behaviors but allows for the possibility of healthy and safe non-intercourse sexual behaviors, such as masturbation and outercourse.
Lovemaking is placed in a moral context when negative and erroneous media messages are combatted with honest discussions of sexual behavior. Participants are encouraged to take away the message that lovemaking is a positive and life-enhancing experience when it is consensual, non-exploitative, mutually pleasurable, safe, developmentally appropriate, based on mutual expectations and caring, and respectful.
Participants explore forms of sexual violation that can occur between relationship partners, peers, and acquaintances and gain strategies to prevent or handle these violations. The workshop emphasizes that we each have the right to consent or not consent, and we have the responsibility to stand up for ourselves and others in situations of harassment, coercion, or assault.
This workshop takes a unique social justice approach by reinforcing the following values: healthy sexual relationships are safe (i.e., they offer no or low risk of unintended pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, and emotional pain); all persons have the right and obligation to make responsible sexual choices; and individuals are responsible for caring for their own sexual health and promoting the wellbeing of their partners, friends, and loved ones.
Participants review the process of conception and are shown how easily pregnancy may occur. They explore the fact that while parenthood can be fun and rewarding, it is also challenging and expensive. The responsibilities of parenthood are addressed, along with its possible affects on participants’ future lives and personal goals.
As they learn about three options for resolving an unintended pregnancy, participants explore their attitudes toward and feelings about being faced with an unintended pregnancy. They practice making the very difficult decision of how to respond to an unintended pregnancy.
Participants learn that careful, consistent use of protection against pregnancy and STIs can make sexual behavior more caring and responsible. They practice evaluating behaviors and their risk for unintended pregnancies and STIs, in an affirming and accepting atmosphere that promotes personal responsibility and planning for the consequences of sexual behavior. Options include bringing in a guest speaker or taking a field trip to a reproductive health center.
This workshop gives participants an opportunity to apply knowledge gained from earlier workshops to consider how they will make future decisions about sexual behavior. They will discuss why teens choose to engage or not to engage in sexual behaviors, and they will articulate where they stand on having sex at this time in their lives. In the process, they can gain self confidence in their ability to make healthy and wise decisions.
Participants apply knowledge gained during Our Whole Lives to the process of communicating with a partner—initiating conversations, communicating relationship bottom lines, and responding to arguments against using protection. They learn and practice a strategy for negotiating with a partner despite disagreement about key issues, such as using protection.
This culminating session provides the opportunity for facilitators and participants to reflect on their shared experience. Participants identify connections between their sexual health and their general health and wellness and are guided to affirm themselves as gatekeepers of their own health and wellness. They list gains they’ve made during the program and describe the impact of Our Whole Lives on their knowledge, feelings, and behavior.
To find out more about Our Whole Lives (OWL) program, email Pamela
Youth meet every other Friday for a variety of activities. The youth, with the assistance of capable youth advisors, plan their own activities. For more information about Friday night programs, contact Pamela at email@example.com
In addition to Friday nights, youth will be able to participate in social action projects, lead a Sunday Service and hold our annual Halloween Party Haunted House and St. Nick’s Pancake Lunch. Youth can obtain volunteer hours at a variety of UCM events throughout the year.
To get your teen involved with the youth program at UCM email Pamela at firstname.lastname@example.org
In Coming of Age programs, we explore not only what it means to be Unitarian Universalist (UU), but what it means to be you. Over the course of a year, youth gather for fun workshops, retreats, and justice projects. With mentors and guides, participants explore what they believe, what they find meaningful, and how to build a spiritual “toolkit” to help them as they face the joys, sorrows, wonders, and challenges of being human. Most Coming of Age programs culminate with a rite of passage where each youth shares a Credo, a statement of their beliefs and values. Congregations design their own Coming of Age programs, often using the Coming of Age Handbook as a resource.
To get your teen involved with the youth program at UCM email Pamela at email@example.com