Last Sunday at church I tried something new and held an Annual Children's Meeting for all the kids in the religious education program.
As Unitarian Universalists, our fifth principle is The Right of Concience and the Use of the Democratic Process. For the kids, I usually translate that as "Believe in Your Ideas and Speak Up for Them, and Listen to Others' Ideas as Well", but really - how better to teach this than to do it.
And there is no point to practicing democracy if there are no real choices to be made. So on Sunday the kids had real choices: what program we would do in religious education classes this summer, where to send the money they collected this year in their children's offering, and what the homecoming party in the fall would be. I picked topics and choices I thought they would be interested in.
Then at the meeting we sorted into three committees, just like how the adults at church work on committees. The committees were:
The Open Minds Committee
The Helping Hands Committee
The Loving Hearts Committee
I had pre-written instructions for the "Chair", and whichever was the eldest child on that committee was chair and had those instructions for how to run the meeting. They asked for volunteer Recorders to keep notes on the meeting, but in the end only adults volunteered for that task. Oh well.
All the meetings went very well, and some cool decisions were reached. For the offering, the Helping Hands Committee created posters for five possible recipients they had selected, and then every child (all committees) got a sticker that was their vote, and they placed their vote on the poster they wanted the money to go to. The final vote was to send the money to relief efforts in Japan.
Unfortunately, I didn't get any pictures taken of the action. Also, because it was Mother's Day our attendance was low - which made it easier to do this but fewer kids got to take part. I'm excited though, to make this part of our tradition in this religious education program, and to perhaps even give committees of children and youth more authority to make real choices and help design the sort of program they want to have.