Programming for Children and Youth
Our programming for children and youth, currently led by volunteer director Liv Radue and volunteer teachers, serves around 20 elementary and middle school students and 10 high school students, most of whom went through Coming of Age last year.
Most of our classes take place in our beautiful Fellowship Building, though we try to utilize our Town Common, wooded trails, or outdoor courtyard when we can. We find an indoor/outdoor balance to best serve our youth. We also try our best to accommodate children who may be sensory-seeking or neurodivergent. Our program offers a variety of quiet, interactive, and physical activities with an understanding of what is developmentally appropriate. We also provide a variety of focus implements or fidgets for a mix of needs (kinetic sand, rice or bean bins, spinners, Play-Doh, Rubik’s cubes, pipe cleaners, etc.).
Our Sunday offerings rotate a mix of all-ages services, individual classes (elementary, middle, and senior high), one-room-schoolhouse activities or social justice projects, or what we call “Storyteller Sundays.” The latter features members of the congregation sharing a passion of theirs with the kids. This has included classes on following your dreams to a job working with NASA and a water rocket launch; a demonstration by fiber artists and then a fiber arts workshop; a drumming circle; sharing images and stories from a safari or a mountain climbing trip.
Some of our one-room-schoolhouse Sundays have included learning about land stewardship in Hawai’i and making our own replica kapa cloth while enjoying Hawaiian snacks during Indigenous Peoples weekend; making charoset for our church Seder; making vegetable soup to sell as a fundraiser for our local food pantry; a Rosh Hashanah-themed escape room; learning about Diwali and fashioning colorful rangoli while enjoying Indian snacks.
In our classrooms, we utilize the Soul Matters curriculum, plus UU Kids Spiritual Recipe Book (a cooking curriculum for our elementary children), and Building a Better World (a role-playing game-based UU curriculum for our middle school children).
In November and December, our upper elementary and older students rehearse and perform a Mummers’ Play, marking the Winter Solstice and the death of the old year and its resurrection in the New Year. Every year a new comedic script is written and directed by a congregant, and the show includes dance performances and music.
Starting in January, we will be offering OWL (Our Whole Lives) for youth in grades 7-9. OWL is a progressive and inclusive sexuality and relationship education program that fosters informed and responsible decisions about sexual health, communication, and behavior.
Our OWL program will run through the end April and is done in conjunction with the UU churches in Littleton, Stow-Acton, Billerica, Westford, Marlboro/Hudson, Groton, and Chelmsford.
One Sunday a year, we let our youth plan a church service – from the music, to the readings, to the sermon or any activities. To great success, the service this past year was themed around play and creativity. The youth set up stations the congregation would rotate through that included collaboratively building with LEGOS, working together to draw the perfect UU island, multi-generational giant Jenga, and a creative storytelling game.
Our Sunday offerings are supplemented by all-ages board game nights, potlucks, caroling, D&D nights, and teen movie nights.
Senior High Youth
Last year was a Coming of Age year for our senior high youth, and we saw nine teens through that program. Our nine youths were matched with nine mentors and attended two monthly classes and two all-day retreats led by two adult facilitators. Our youth participated in CityReach, an overnight urban outreach program in Boston, where youth learn first-hand about homelessness from people who have experienced it. Our teens offered food, clothing, and personal products to Boston’s unhoused community and made 120 bagged lunches to serve at Common Cathedral. They also participated in the Walk for Hunger in Boston. At the culminating ceremony in May, each Coming of Age youth shared their personal Credo with the HUUC community, followed by a potluck luncheon in the Fellowship Hall.
We have two volunteer coordinators for senior high youth social justice who will be planning spring projects with the teens this year.