RESPONSE: September 2018 ISSUE

A Space for Young Women

Assembly 2018 featured a Teen Track to invite teens ages 13 to 18 into United Methodist Women and faith leadership.

A Space for Young Women
Women celebrate "The Power of Bold" as they dance at the United Methodist Women Assembly 2018 in Columbus, Ohio.

Transformational experiences happen when we are intentional about inviting individuals into a space and creating environments that appeal to those whom we seek to attract and engage. Assembly 2018 offered its first ever Teen Track, a concentrated experience for young women ages 13 to 18 to unite and bond socially and spiritually.

The Teen Track included two workshop learning opportunities and an assortment of activities and talks in the Limitless Lounge—a safe and creative space dedicated to teens and young adults at Assembly. The Limitless Lounge was supported by eight Limitless network volunteers aged 19 to 35. The volunteers served as chaperones and provided guidance for the teens, and they engaged them in group activities that helped them get to know one another and form bonds. The lounge space included comfortable seating, music, lighting, gaming options and activities from coloring and selfie stations to crafts and jewelry making.

Teen Track participants had the opportunity to come a day early and join in the Ubuntu Day of Service and the public rally for a living wage organized by United Methodist Women. On opening night, the Limitless Lounge hosted an open mic and pizza party, during which young women showcased their talents, including karaoke, dance and spoken word poetry.

A few guests stopped by the lounge to give powerful (and brief) talks on topics such as “fun-raising” for the next 150 years of United Methodist Women, the school-to-prison pipeline, gun violence in schools, menstrual health, and opportunities for service and advocacy.

The young women even took part in creating reusable pads for Days for Girls, a United Methodist Women partner that helps provide menstruation supplies for girls around the world, empowering women and girls worldwide through sustainable menstrual care and health education.

On Saturday of Assembly, the group proudly wore their Limitless Teen Track T-shirts and enjoyed special shout-outs from the big stage, which gave the young women a chance to shine! We closed out the night by hosting and leading the neon lights 150th dance party.

In total, 35 young women preregistered for the Teen Track, and another 10 joined on site! It was beautiful to see them all together. The young women took advantage of the space created just for them—they played there, ate there, communed there and felt safe there. For many this was their first Assembly or even their first United Methodist Women experience. They are all looking forward to another chance to be together. Talk about transformation!

This happened because the experience was thoughtful and meticulously tailored. The details were cared about, and it made the vibe organic and authentic.

For many teens, social connection is their first priority. We know that experiences are deeply tied to emotions and identity, so if we really want to transform young women into lifetime members of and advocates for United Methodist Women, we must be willing to create experiences that help young women develop an emotional connection to one another, to the work and to how they see themselves in it.

These positive experiences in which young women can make new friends, share, have fun and keep in touch creates a sense of safety and security that then allows them to connect their hearts, minds and identities with United Methodist Women. The Assembly 2018 Teen Track did just that and more. We can’t wait to see how they put their faith, hope and love into action!

Ebony Diaz is United Methodist Women executive for nurture and development.

Posted or updated: 9/10/2018 12:00:00 AM

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