Some youth recently asked me if they will they have to travel many miles to attend their beloved CONs. The answer is yes and no. In fact, the possibilities to connect with youth within the region will continue to grow. Local cons will still exist and regional opportunities will offer more than you can ever imagine.
Here’s a taste of what the youth in Mid-America are up to:
MidAmerica Youth Events for the New Year
By Shannon Harper, Our Whole Lives [OWL] and Youth Events Coordinator
Hello MidAmerica Region! As I write this message to you, 2015 is slowly coming to its end. And when you read this, 2016 will have just started, fresh and ripe with new possibilities. It’s a magical time, this cusp, a time to reflect, celebrate our accomplishments and mourn our losses; and a time to look ahead to what amazing things we will experience and accomplish together in the new year.
This past year Central Midwest Area hosted their second Youth Chaplaincy Training, helping to continue the tradition of providing safe and mindful CON experiences in MidAmerica. Prairie Star Area was the location of Kamehamehame-CON in Des Moines. And, in addition to their annual Senior High CON, CONtagious, Heartland Area offered two Middle School retreats held at YMCA camps in Kentucky and Michigan plus an MS cluster CON in Lexington, KY. MidAmerica has certainly been busy providing quality youth experiences!
And as excited as I was for all those great youth events of 2015, I’m just as excited about what’s coming up this new year. (Please note: all of the following events are open to any youth in the MidAmerica Region unless otherwise specified.) All Souls Church of Indianapolis is in the midst of planning their Middle School Cluster CON, CONivale, January 15th-17th. This is for all 6th-12th graders and the registration form can be found on the MidAmerica calendar. In February MidAmerica youth are invited to join the Heartland Area Youth Council for their annual JusticeCON-a whole weekend dedicated to social, economic and environmental justice issues; it will be held at Birmingham Unitarian Church in Michigan.
And speaking of justice issues, March 11-13 North Shore Unitarian Church in Deerfield, IL has invited myself and Caleb Leman, an alumni and former staff of Youth Midwest Leadership School and current Youth Observer on the UUA Board of Trustees, to facilitate a weekend-long seminar for youth in MidAmerica about dismantling racism and building not just diverse communities, but communities in which all people feel heard, feel safe and feel validated.
The first weekend in April (1-3) the Unitarian Universalist Church of Rockford, IL is hosting the Northern Spring CON (this event is open only to youth in the northern section of the Central Midwest Area [CMWA]), which is sure to be well attended after their break from Fall CON last year. We are eagerly awaiting news from the South (CMWA) as to location and date of their Spring CON!
At Regional Assembly in St. Paul this year, we’re planning some special treats for youth. In November of 2015 Minnesota UU Social Justice Alliance (MUUSJA) launched an immersive youth program called SOALS (The Spiritual Organizer/Activist Leadership Seminar for UU Youth) and leaders in that program have been working with MidAmerica staff to plan an educational component for youth at RA. We’re also planning a youth track at RA similar to what is done at General Assembly.
And of course, talking about Youth events in MidAmerica wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t mention Youth Midwest Leadership School! YMWLS is an awesome opportunity for MidAmerica youth to hone their leadership skills, express their creativity, learn how to work in multi-generational worship teams and make connections with other UU youth across the region.
To borrow a line from one of my favorite Dr. Seuss characters, The Cat in the Hat, “And that is not all, oh no, that is not all. . .” I’m sure there are many more wonderful things happening in our Region that I don’t know about yet. But I’d love to! So shoot me a line and let me know what great youth events you are planning in 2016. I’ll make sure they get on the calendar and are advertised through MidAmerica. Don’t worry if your event has a limited invitation, we’ll just note that in its description. I envision the MidAmerica event calendar to be a one-stop-shop for all youth events in the region. Please help me make it complete.
You can email me at [email protected] And remember, I’m also your contact for hosting OWL Facilitator Trainings. Happy 2016!