Fostering spiritual growth among Latter-day Saint young women
It's easy. Send a link to the story you were just reading to a friend. Just fill out the form on this page and we'll send it along.
The Church's Personal Progress program — which now includes a revised booklet, a redesigned Young Women medallion, and other tools — will help young women in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints grow in faith and testimony of their Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ, said Sister Elaine S. Dalton.
"We hope that Personal Progress will help them understand who they are, their identity as daughters of our Heavenly Father, how precious they are in His sight and the great roles and responsibilities they have as His daughters here on the earth at this time," added Sister Dalton, general Young Women president.
Speaking about new additions and a new look for the Church's Personal Progress program, Sister Dalton — along with her counselors, Sister Mary N. Cook and Sister Ann M. Dibb — said the program is intended to foster spiritual growth.
As part of that effort, personal progress booklets and other materials have been revised and printed in English, Spanish and Portuguese and will be available in Distribution Centers by Jan. 15. The materials are currently being translated into additional languages for young women worldwide.
New booklets include the eighth value of virtue, which was added to the Young Women theme and Personal Progress program by the First Presidency last year.
The booklets also have the Salt Lake Temple on the cover, a symbol for youth of the Church preparing to make future temple covenants, said Sister Dalton.
"Our dream is to help every young woman to be worthy and prepared and ready to walk through the temple doors," she said. "That is our vision."
In addition, the Young Women medallion has been redesigned and now includes age group historical symbols for Beehives, Mia Maids and Laurels, and has a ruby. "I want every young woman to realize that she is more precious than rubies," said Sister Dalton.
The booklets are pink. "We are excited about the color of pink, because we think these young women are pink. They resonate to the softness and the femininity of that color. We want them to understand that they are soft, they are unique, they are feminine and that they don't have to be like the boys."
And for those teens who earn their medallion before they complete their years in Young Women, they can now earn a "Honor Bee" by reading the Book of Mormon again and helping another young woman meet her goals. (For more information on the Honor Bee and other new tools, please see accompany article.)
Sister Dibb said the changes are necessary to recognize young women for all the good that they do.
"Sometimes they may feel as though they are alone in doing good things. We want them to know that they are not alone, that we do recognize them and we want to encourage them, as they keep the standards and obey the commandments."
Sister Cook said the program is an avenue for young women to not only discover their talents, but also to be praised for the many good choices they are making.
Many young women "don't realize how they are growing and improving," added Sister Dibb. "But as leaders and parents we can see that growth and we want to commend them and encourage them in that growth."
Sister Dalton said the purpose of the program can be summed up in a quote from President Thomas S. Monson who said that "progress reported and measured accelerates."
Sister Dalton said parents and teens often tell her they are too busy to do Personal Progress. "We always say, 'What are you busy doing?' Then the young woman will give a huge long list of all the things she is busy doing. That is Personal Progress."
Sister Dalton wants parents and leaders to work together to give the young women credit for all the good things they are doing and cheer them on.
Often, she said, parents and leaders have a tendency to notice the things their daughters aren't doing.
"We also feel that young women of that age need some kind of cheerleading," said Sister Cook.
The entire presidency said this can be accomplished as mothers, and even fathers, complete Personal Progress goals with their daughters.
Sister Dibb said an important part of the Personal Progress program is that it invites young women to go to the scriptures and study value-related topics such as faith and integrity.
Many young women who have completed Personal Progress have said, "'I don't know if I would have done that on my own.' We hope that their testimony grows in that respect and that they feel the Spirit."
Sister Dalton said when a young woman begins to do Personal Progress she changes.
"The Spirit comes into her life," she said.
Sister Cook explained that the program is centered around the new eight Young Women values, which will help them define their identity and roles as a daughter of God. "Each exercise, experience or project is focused on her becoming more familiar and aware of what those values are and how they relate to her in her life."
Sister Dalton said that few people are teaching values in society today. "Who is teaching values in our society today? Where will a young woman go to understand the values of faith, divine nature, individual worth, integrity, knowledge, choice and accountability? We believe this is probably one of the very few places that they are being taught values. And it is very important for strengthening homes and families and our entire society."
Sister Dibb noted that she met a woman from Brazil who realized as she was leaving for her mission that the Personal Progress program had prepared her to serve. Through the program, she grew "just by doing small and simple things."
"I think that sometimes, because this is small and simple, that we underestimate the power of small and simple things in a girl's life," said Sister Dalton. "It is like putting on an armor for a young woman, one chain at a time, one experience at a time. … We want to integrate this into a young woman's life."
In international areas, where distance prevents Latter-day Saint youth from gathering frequently in large numbers, the Personal Progress program becomes a vital way of strengthening testimonies, added Sister Cook.
"These young women are strong and they are noble," said Sister Dalton. "But it is as if they are standing in a riptide and trying to stay upright in the world. And this will be a tool for parents and priesthood leaders and all of us to really encircle a young women about with support and with faith and testimony and help her in her desire to be righteous and pure and worthy."