By JOLLY ROGERS
|(Pink hearts were added to this photo to cover the name of the ward)|
Speaker: “How PersonalProgress is blessing my life” (a YW who is working on PP)
Speaker: “Be Who You Were MINT (meant) to be” (our new Stake YWPresident spoke, but anyone could do this)
TAKE HOME GIFT – “What we think of you” Jars:
Our Secretary came up with the idea to have each young man write what they thought of each individual YW and give them all these compliments as a gift. At first, it may kind of sound like this was a “my worth = what boys think of me” thing, but it was actually a really positive and uplifting experience. Some of the YW had commented that their parents “have to” say that they’re talented, pretty, smart, etc, but thats not what other really people think. We wanted them to know how much they are respected, valued, and appreciated by others. It wasn’t a “boy” thing, it was more of an “other youth in the ward who aren’t going be getting a jar” thing – which left only the boys! (PS- We actually added some compliments from the YW leaders as well, so it wasn’t ALL boys)
She bought jars, mint candy, green burlap fabric, and brown ribbon. She made a LOT of little envelopes with coordinating paper, and a label with each girl’s name… You could probably save a lot of time by buying small pre-made envelopes or even tiny cards with envelopes We had to keep this whole project a surprise, so the girls didn’t know what was coming. We wanted each of them to take home a whole jar of uplifting, positive ideas that would (hopefully) boost their self-esteem and help them realize their worth and potential.
Besides assembling the jars themselves, this project required some significant behind-the-scenes planning and work. Several weeks ago, we asked the YM leaders to help us by having the YM write a short phrase or sentence about what they admire/like about each YW (they did this during part of a Mutual activity). We knew that this project would require some pre-screening (we didn’t want anything negative, snarky, anything that would give away their identity -like inside jokes- or any iffy “you’re hot” type comments)…we explained to the YM that all the YW leaders, the girls (and likely their parents) would see these comments, so they need to be positive. Also, their identities would be kept anonymous, so they wouldn’t have to worry about being teased, embarrassed, etc.
I made a spread-sheet with each YW’s name in one column and a space to write something about her next to it. They gave a copy to each YM. Most of the YM said things like, “She’s friendly”, “Nice smile”, “Great at sports”, “Good example to classmates”, “Welcoming to new people”, or “Plans really fun activities”. It was actually (surprisingly) pretty non-superficial. We’ve recently had a ward reorganization, so one issue that the YM leaders ran into was that some of the boys didn’t know some of the newer girls and some of the new (younger) boys didn’t know any of the girls by name. It might be helpful to do this after a get-to-know-you activity, or at least have some photos of the YW available so that you can point them out. If they really didn’t know anything about the person OR didn’t have anything nice to say, they were asked to just leave that space blank. Some spaces were left blank, but it evened out overall.
They had the YM write everything on their own copy of the spreadsheet (no YM names were used so we didn’t know who said what) and then I re-wrote their comments on the actual slips of paper we were going to use. This was mostly because we weren’t sure what the hand-writing situation was going to be and we wanted them to be nice :) My daughter later pointed out that re-writing every compliment in my own hand-writing made it impossible for her and her friends to figure out who had said what about them (she was hoping to be able to outsmart us by recognizing the handwriting of classmates) :) You could also type up each comment if you wanted.
Some of the YW leaders wrote compliments for the YW as well. You could expand this to include notes from parents, the Bishopric, Seminary teachers, etc. Since there are no names, they don’t ever find out who wrote what! We also included several envelopes that contained scriptures about worth, etc.
We asked the YM to please keep this whole thing a surprise, and to MY surprise, I don’t think any of the YW knew what they were getting! At the end of the program, our Secretary got up and explained what their gifts were about and while we passed them out she asked that they wait until they get home to open their jars. I think they all waited, but every single girl was clutching her jar like it was the HOLY GRAIL! When the YM saw some of the YW with their jars, they even seemed excited – “Are those for that project we did?!?!?!”
We did all of the refreshments to match the mint theme (mostly chocolate-mint). We also served mint-lime water.
We kept it simple this year. I put some decorative items (a photo collage, a picture of Christ, a statue of Moroni, some framed quotes about Personal Progress, our YW plaque, and a photo of the 3 girls who have earned their Honor Bee). We tried to keep everything in the brown/green/white/gold color scheme. I even had the photos of the girls printed in “sepia” tone so that they coordinated! I didn’t get a photo of the whole table because by the time I got to the table (which also held the refreshments), it was already a chocolate-mint massacre! :)
The highlight of the night is always after the program, when all of the parents and leaders get to go around and see all of the young women’s display tables. We set out a large round table (they seat 8 people, we use them for ward dinners, etc) for each YW to decorate with Personal Progress projects, Personal Progress awards, and other items that represent their accomplishments/hobbies/interests for the year. Some girls bring t-shirts from Girls Camp/EFY/Youth Conference, sports jerseys, ballet shoes, sewing projects, honor roll certificates, baked goods, collections, photography projects, dance photos, varsity letters, art projects… you name it, they displayed it! Again, I was having too much fun to remember to take photos, but if you look under the “Young Women in Excellence” label on the right side of this blog, you can see my past blogs about YWIE and there are some photos available there. The basic idea is that all of the girls get to display their accomplishments, whether or not they have chosen to participate in Personal Progress.
It was our biggest turnout ever, and most enjoyable YWIE that I’ve ever been a part of! Hooray!