Children and youth who feel connected to a church want to come to church. Here at First Parish we offer many opportunities for our children and youth to make connections with each other outside of our Religious Education classes. Our youth groups help build community among our children and youth, encourage each of our youth to develop an understanding of his/her identity as a Unitarian Universalist, and help each youth to develop a personal sense of value within the church and wider community.
Here at First Parish of Stow and Acton we offer:
- Club UU (children in grades K-5)
- First Chalice Program (2nd-4th grade)
- Junior Youth Group (6th-8th grade)
- Senior Youth Group (9th-12th grade)
- High School Discussion Group
- Our Whole Lives (OWL) programs for 5th & 6th grade and 7th-9th grade youth. These programs offer sexuality and faith curricula and are offered every other year (will be offered next in 2014-2015).
- Coming of Age program for 10th graders, which publicly recognizes their growth into the adult community.
All of our programs are open to any interested youth. Families need not be members of the church for youth to participate in the programs. All we need is parental permission.
Club UU is a youth group for children in grades K – 5. It meets several times throughout the year to encourage children from both services to get to know each other and to build a sense of community. At these meetings we share food, play cooperative games, and just have lots of fun!
First Chalice is a program that will be offered to our 2nd-4th graders each year. We recognize that children at this age are entering the "age of reason" and can begin to discuss what they believe. We give these children the opportunity to explore their Unitarian Universalist faith, learn about our principles, and take part in a simple service project with their peers in special Sunday morning sessions, as well as at home with their families. Upon completion of this program the children are recognized in a formal ceremony in a church service.
This group is for youth who are in grades 6, 7 & 8. It meets twice monthly. This group emphasizes building community by having fun, collaborating with other local UU churches, and being involved in social justice projects.
Senior youth from grades 9-12 meet several times a month. This group also emphasizes building community through fun, social activities, collaborating with other local UU churches, and participating in social justice projects.
The High School Discussion Group meets several Sunday mornings a month during Religious Education time. Students determine with their facilitators what their discussion topics will be. Topics include Unitarian Universalist History and Beliefs as well as highlighting occasional sermon themes.
Participants in the 5th and 6th grade program learn about and discuss the physical and emotional changes of puberty and examine topics such as values and sexuality, communication and decision making. Each session includes a Home Link homework activity for parents and children to complete together. This open discussion model helps families establish a lifelong pattern of communication around sensitive topics. Our Whole Lives helps our 7th-9th grade participants make informed and responsible decisions about their sexual health and behavior. It equips participants with accurate, age-appropriate information in six subject areas: human development, relationships, personal skills, sexual behavior, sexual health, and society and culture. Grounded in a holistic view of sexuality, Our Whole Lives not only provides facts about anatomy and human development, but also helps participants clarify their values, build interpersonal skills, and understand the spiritual, emotional, and social aspects of sexuality. The Our Whole Lives Program will be offered this year beginning in January 2015.
In Unitarian Universalist churches, as in other faith traditions, we recognize the transition from childhood to impending adulthood. Here at First Parish, our 10th and 11th grade students participate in a Coming of Age program where they reflect on their growth from childhood, learn about themselves, and prepare for adulthood. We mark this transition with a year-long program that includes five parts: pairing youth with adult mentors; discussions and retreats that emphasize self-awareness and confidence-building; service to the church and community; development of a personal statement of faith (a credo); and a culminating affirmation ceremony. We will offer this program in the 2014-2015 year.
NOTE: For current schedule information about any of our youth programs or events please visit the Youth Programs Calendar. Schedules are also available from the Director of Religious Education, Michelle Cote (RE@fpc-stow-acton.org, 978-897-8149), and on the monthly church calendar.