Mya Wade Harper YMWLS Class of 2019 900wThis summer I had not dreamed that I would be spending one of the best weeks of my life in Decorah, Iowa with other UU’s who cared for me and what I stand for. But in fact, that is what happened, and I can’t thank everyone who made it happen enough. That week was filled with beautiful memories that flowed into friendships, discussions that reminded me of what I hold dear and leadership skills that left me fired up and excited to do more. This summer was not one to forget.

morgan miller 2018 300wThe time I spent at leadership school in Decorah, Iowa was one of the most eye-opening experiences I have ever had the privilege of participating in. It felt less like we were being led and more like we had control over what was going to happen. The week was similar to my overall journey with Unitarian Universalists in that it was filled with both deep reflection of who I am as a person (both good and bad) and what I believe in, but also a constant reminder of how much I have to learn from the amazing people that surround me.

Aislynn Pasierb Headshot closeThis story comes to us from Aislynn Pasierb, a member of Eliot Unitarian Chapel in Kirkwood, Missouri.

I was incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to attend UU Youth Midwest Leadership School (YMWLS) in Beloit, WI this past [2015] July. YMWLS gave me the chance to create lasting friendships and learn more about what it means to be a Unitarian Universalist. Most importantly, I learned about how important multi-generational involvement is in Unitarian Universalism.

A significant component of being at YMWLS is creating a worship service in a group of participants from both the youth and adult leadership schools. This experience was very different for each group, depending on their ability to communicate and include both youth and adults. My experience was very positive. When any person, no matter their age, would speak, everyone would listen and truly consider the other person’s ideas. As a group, we were able to incorporate everyone’s input and make sure everyone could participate in the service in a comfortable way. Read More...

Noah RowanThis story was written by Noah Rowan, a member and leader of the Eliot Unitarian Chapel Senior High Youth Group

I have privilege. White privilege. Male privilege. Cis-gender privilege. Economic privilege.

Until recently, I felt guilty about my privilege. I shoved it down and denied its existence. I waited for someone to reassure me that privilege was a made up phenomenon. I watched others do the work but called myself an ally. I never spoke up about the numerous opportunities I received. I couldn’t explain or fix it, so why acknowledge that privilege was existent in my life?

Recently, I attended UU Youth Midwest Leadership School in Beloit, WI. This intensive experience, which explored leadership development, social justice, our Unitarian Universalist (UU) faith, and team-building skills, was set to be another ordinary week in my life. I expected to show up and talk once or twice about justice. I would feel safe, comfortable and inside my comfort zone. I was wrong. Instead, we confronted tough topics. We were forced to gain new perspectives and tint the lenses in our glasses through which we see life in order to view these issues in new ways. We engaged in conversation, shared simple team-building games, and explored activities which built leadership skills. Most activities were informative, motivational, and inspiring, and placed me outside of my comfort zone to ensure attentive participation. Read more...

Colleen and Phoebe YMWLSIn July 2014, we attended Youth Midwest Leadership School (YMWLS), a week-long UU leadership camp for UU youth in Beloit, Wisconsin. It was the best week of our lives.

We arrived with little preconception about the week's activities. We hoped for fun and eye-opening experiences. What we encountered was far more than we could have hoped for, particularly the relationships we developed with 28 other open-minded UU youth. We created a unique UU community where, together, we pursued acceptance, spirituality, communication, peace, equity, and unconditional love. We bonded until the idea of leaving sounded impossible. We departed feeling we'd evolved into new and better versions of ourselves who had experienced a real taste of what community, spirituality, and love truly means.