Early adolescence is a tender time. Emotions run close to the surface or get stuffed far below; friends can be closer than ever or painfully absent. Our capacity for reasoning grows by leaps and bounds. Through friendships and mentoring relationships, we engage in the age-old question “Who am I?,” doing the serious (and not so serious) work of identity formation—gender identity, racial identity, and religious identity. We long for a place where we will find acceptance and affirmation, compassion, courage, inspiration and a chance to make a difference. Unitarian Universalism is that kind of place.
Parents of early adolescents celebrate the growing capacities of their younger youth, nurturing resilience in the face of the stresses of this crucial time. Unitarian Universalism offers:
- community and acceptance,
- joy and love of life,
- exploration of ideas and beliefs,
- development of ethics and values, and
- a chance to work alongside others to make the world a better place.
At Vashon Island Unitarian Fellowship we do this every Sunday, developing our UU identity through an understanding of our heritage as experienced in skits, art, drama, science and youth developed worship. Each year we also explore world religions, understanding that building bridges with our faith neighbors both deepens our own spiritual development and furthers understanding and peace. Learning about our faith neighbors include guest speakers and field trips!
In addition to our Sunday morning program, we also go outside the Fellowship to make connection. For instance, in the fall we join with other UU Fellowships from around the Pacific Northwest for the Middle School Conference right here at Vashon’s own Camp Sealth. This weekend gives our 6th-8th graders a chance to expand and deepen their UU conections with their UU peers while having FUN! Ropes course, archery, day spa, rockets and capture the flag are among the many activities offered.
Additionally. we offer the Our Whole Lives (OWL) Program for the different age groups on a rotating basis. In the Winter of 2015 we will offer OWL for the 7th-9th grade group. Our Whole Lives is a UU sexuality education curricula that helps youth make informed and responsible decisions about their relationships, sexual health and behavior. Developed by professional sexuality educators for use in churches, schools, and community settings, OWL equips participants with accurate, age-appropriate information in six subject areas:
- Human development
- Personal skills
- Sexual behavior
- Sexual health
- Society and culture
Grounded in a holistic view of sexuality, Our Whole Lives provides not only facts about anatomy and reproduction, but helps participants to clarify their values and consider gender identity, body image, friendship, and emotional development.