As Youth and Young Adult Coordinator of the CMwD, I provide staff support for budgeting, disbursements, committee meetings and events, governance, policies, and to maintain youth and young adult websites and multiple listservs. I also answer phone calls, e-mails, and meet with UU congregations, members and parents about youth and young adult issues. Primarily, I have helped empower our youth and young adults by supporting the following committees and activities. This year that work has shifted to include planning for a transition to the regionalization of this work.
YASC (Young Adult Steering Committee) is the young adult leadership group in CMwD. The mission of YASC is to build community and to foster growth in the Central Midwest District Unitarian Universalist Young Adult movement. YASC members are members of our congregations that are elected by young adults in our district at our semiannual young adult conferences. YASC seeks to cultivate and integrate the presence and experience of young adults into UU congregations.
YASC also hosted OPUS in Kankakee, Illinois this summer for four days of camping and reconnecting as we helped in the return of this amazing event! Opus is the annual spiritual retreat of the Continental Unitarian Universalist Young Adult Network. OPUS included daily worship and workshops that included artistic exercises, philosophical discussions, and spiritual reflection. Additionally OPUS attendees enjoyed the pool, a challenge course, river swimming and on Friday, we planted native plants, hacked Honeysuckle and harvesting at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie. Check out our video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ol7RhQHka50
Our fall Young Adult conference called Conceptions: Big Ideas about Love & Sex was held in at First Unitarian Society in Madison, Wisconsin. This event explored the roles that gender and sexuality play in our lives, and foster discussions about the many different forms love can take. We also encouraged sexual responsibility by passing out safer sex kits to tailgaters at the Wisconsin Badger football game and promoting Standing on the Side of Love. The highlight of this conference was connecting with MUUYACM, the Madison campus ministry and sharing potluck and Saturday worship with the congregation at FUS.
YASC also volunteered at District Annual Assembly 2010 by presenting a multi-generational worship on Saturday.
DYSC (District Youth Steering Committee) has been the youth leadership group elected by youth from our district at our District Youth Council. DYSC works as youth leaders at district youth conferences by presenting the rules, patrolling overnight with adults and being on the discipline committee. They also offer a youth perspective on conference policies, rules and vision for our district youth work.
Our district youth conferences continue to be extremely popular and average attendance is between 200-300 participants each spring and fall. The Beatle-themed fall conference was named “Here Cons the Sun,” and hosted by the Evanston, IL UU Congregation. Fall conference, Some-Con A Wonderful was hosted by Unity Youth Group and at the Rockford UU Congregation. Both conferences featured a medley of workshops, social justice speakers, worship, dances and fun.
We are pleased to announce that this spring Countryside UU Church of Palatine, IL will be hosting the spring youth conference on April 1-3, 2011. Leadership at Countryside has carefully considered this decision and agreed to follow the policies and procedures developed in our district for the safety of all youth who participate. In this time of transition for district youth services, Countryside Church will be using a conference consultant to replace supervision from the district at the conference. Heather Godbout, youth advisor for Unity temple and fall conference host, has been hired to fill this role. Heather has a long history as an outstanding youth advisor in our district and we are very happy that she has agreed to do this.
CMWD Youth Council is a district event where youth connect, share resources, receive leadership training and participate in DYSC elections. 20 CMwD congregations were represented by 35 youth at Dupage, IL UU Congregation in July of 2010. Youth Council featured a series of leadership workshops, worships and community building activities. Participants also discussed the future growth of youth ministry in the district and the role DYSC can play to make our visions a reality.
I also helped plan and teach Youth Midwest Leadership School in Beloit, WI this past summer. Midwest Leadership School is a week-long intensive experience designed to engage youth participants in all aspects of leadership in a Unitarian Universalist faith community. It challenges and trains Unitarian Universalist youth in three areas: Leadership Skills Development, Worship, and Religious Values & Heritage. We were pleased to have 23 youth attend and to unite adult staff from Heartland, Prairie Star and CMWD to make this event a success for the second time this summer. We have already begun planning and staffing for the school that will be happening in 2011. Our featured video about Youth MLS: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fRC3NKvLGV8
Thank you for the opportunity to work with all the youth, young adults, their allies and congregations of CMWD for the past 6 years.