Below, you will find a set of paragraphs that briefly describe in general terms major things the Youth Programs Sprint group has found doing work on behalf of our Quaker Life Council to discern a vision, mission, and governance structure for our yearly meeting’s youth programs. Following the paragraphs, there are a set of queries that may guide Friends who would like to offer feedback regarding the paragraphs or anything else related to our yearly meeting’s youth programs.
Philadelphia Yearly Meeting (PYM) has a role in offering and supporting youth programming throughout the yearly meeting. We are eager to learn from you about your experience with yearly meeting (YM) youth programming and how it can be improved.
We have heard that PYM can serve as a facilitator, capacity builder, and resource cultivator, but we also know that religious education/spiritual development falls to monthly meetings MMs or quarterly meetings QMs, so we are eager to hear how our YM can best support the religious education in MMs and QMs. Community for parents, families, and children/youth is often grounded at the local level, but our MM/QM numbers are small, so the YM may be able to provide opportunities that foster skill building and spiritual community for Friends of all ages.
PYM youth programs have significant attendance fluctuations and we want to understand those better. We know that where things happen matters, and we have heard that big policy or practice changes can affect attendance. We are also tender about striking the balance between youth empowerment and adult leadership in our Young Friends (High School-age)program. We recognize that we may be experiencing a demographic downturn, although recent political events have been drawing more attenders to our meetings. We want to be mindful of the insider/outsider perspective of youth and families who currently do or don’t participate in YM events.
We have heard that we need to identify effective strategies for outreach that get information to those who need it without over-stretching YM staff. Social media, email, postcards, and face to face interaction are all ways we engage with youth and their parents, but there is a disconnect between the information that comes out of the YM and what people at MMs and QMs hear.