Confronting Islamophobia

This month our children’s religious education classes are learning about Islam, and as part of that learning it is important that we discuss the rise of Islamophobia in our country. Here are some ideas and resources for beginning that work at home:

Taking it Home:
 
1. As a parent/guardian, consider how you respond to Islamophobia. This article from Teaching Tolerance may get you thinking about it.
3. When you notice depictions of Islam or Muslims that you disagree with (in popular media, the news, or political speech) speak up! The UUSC has gathered facts and tips for confronting hate speech.
Try a Faith Adventure:
 
Muslims pray five times a day, and we discussed prayer in class on Sunday. What is a Unitarian Universalist understanding of prayer? What is prayer? Who/what are we praying to? Why and how do we pray?
Explore prayer together this week!
A toolkit for your adventure:
Now, try praying as a family. Perhaps try a morning prayer as you all get ready to scatter and start your days, or an evening prayer at bedtime. Just try it out, for a week, and see how it feels. Talk about it: what was awkward, what was profound, how did you feel, what were the effects?
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Preparing Your Children to Take Place in a March or Large Event

With the Women’s March approaching, there is a lot more discussion about how to include children in these large events, rallies, and marches. I encourage parents to take their children to engage in public witness and demonstration, but bring prepared will help!
Resources that already say it better than I can:
This article from Parent Map gives some helpful tips on preparing your kids for a large crowd event: https://www.parentmap.com/article/how-kids-political-marches-crowd
It also helps kids feel more prepared for an event if they have a sign to hold. Taking the time to discuss what the event is about and to create a sign that expresses the child’s own words will enrich their experience and the event.

 

Then – Have Fun and Be Safe!

Volunteering for Children and Youth

This month our middle and high school groups have each worked to help make this a community where no one goes hungry.
Our High School youth joined with adult members of OUUC to serve dinner at the Community Kitchen. This is a fantastic way to directly serve and welcome folks in for a warm meal.
Our Middle School youth volunteered at the Food Bank, helping to sort and pack the food for the Thanksgiving boxes. We were given the job of produce, and spent two hours working as fast as we could to put apples, potatoes, and onions in bags – it was a workout!
This was our way of sharing our abundance this month.
Interested in volunteering with your kids?
 
1. Here are some good tips about volunteering with children, from PBS Kids.
2. Many local organizations have age restrictions, but families can sometimes volunteer together. If you volunteer anywhere, ask if your kids could come along with you.
3. My favorite local organization for kid-friendly volunteering is Stream Team. Also, remember that kids can volunteer at church!
4. If you are looking for a volunteer opportunity for a certain age group or interest-area, Volunteer Match is a very useful tool.
The effort you make now to sow the seeds of compassion and caring in your kids can make a big difference in their lives!

Children and Youth Respond to the Election

Like the adults in our congregation and community, the children and youth were also very concerned about the election results last week, and what they mean for our country going forward. In our middle school group, we let go of the planned lesson for that week, and instead focused on the election and how everyone was feeling about it. We went down to the Division street sidewalk and wrote some community messages of hope and love, as well.
It’s just a start. There is much still to do, and there is still a lot of fear, sadness and anger for our children and youth to process (you adults too!).
Here are a few things you can do right now with your kids:
 
1. Talk about how you can respond to everyday bigotry when you encounter it. I highly recommend the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Speak Up: Responding to Everyday Bigotry guide for helpful ideas about how to speak up in a variety of different situations (with family, neighbors, etc.).
2. Consider wearing a safety pin, as a sign you are a “safe” person for marginalized people. If you are going to do that, be really intentional about it. There’s a great essay about what it really means to take on that symbol, which you should read. https://isobeldebrujah.wordpress.com/2016/11/12/so-you-want-to-wear-a-safety-pin/
3. Write a letter (they are more effective than emails) to let our legislators know how you feel about a specific issue you are worried about right now (Health Care, Immigration Justice, the Paris climate change agreement, etc).
4. Talk about what citizenship means between elections. Voting matters, but it’s not the only time we speak up for what is important to us. How can we continue to be active citizens and have our voices be heard? Start by reading Teaching Tolerance’s What to Say to Kids on November 10th and the Days After.

Happy Pride Month

 

 

June is Pride Month, and all around the world there are Pride Parades and celebrations. And, after the shooting in Orlando, it’s even more important for our children and youth to have positive stories lifted up. Celebrate Pride Month with these resources:

My List of Pride Month Picture Books

Advocate’s list of 21 LGBT books every kid should read

Advice from True Colors in the wake of Orlando

RE Sunday

Another year in our religious education program has come to a close. We celebrated the children, youth, and volunteers last Sunday with a worship service full of song, story, testimonials, and fun.

A Huge Thank You to the team of 20 volunteers and 5 staff who made this year a great success!

Our Summer Program Will Be MakerSpace

As we usually do, we had the children vote on what they would like to do learn about this summer in religious education at the Children’s Annual Meeting. The choice was … MakerSpace!

MakerSpace is an idea that is part of the larger makers movement, a movement that seeks to promote tinkering, inventing, creating, and hands-on learning. A makerspace is a place that has the tools, materials, and supplies for hands-on making.

In our interpretation, we will have a classroom set up with: movie making, upcycling/fashion/fiber arts, green energy and snap circuit kits, and art studio supplies. A guest from the congregation will demonstrate and show something that they make each week.

Time for some hands-on faith formation … developing the skills that can shape our world.

 

Elementary Service Project

 

This year we are including a service project component in our elementary class. To choose a focus for that project, the kids had a chance to make proposals at the Children’s Annual Meeting, and then everyone voted on what they would like to do. The choice this year was to help shelter animals.

Unfortunately, children under 14 years old cannot volunteer at the shelter with the animals. However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty this age group can do!

In our Sunday classes so far we have:

Next up: A Bake Sale and Supply Collection! Next Sunday the kids will be running a table in the hall during coffee hour, selling baked goods and collecting donations of animal supplies, all to benefit the local animal shelter.

And to cap it all off: I’ve arranged a class about cats and dogs and a tour provided by the animal shelter. This is on a Friday afternoon, for a limited number of participants, but those who wish to go will find out how dogs and cats communicate with us and tour the shelter.

This has been a great project!