Personal Progress online for Latter-day Saint young women
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In order to connect with Young Women worldwide in a medium they embrace, the Church has launched online Personal Progress.
"We live in a connected society, a very connected society, where we can connect with nearly anyone in the world, anytime we want," said Sister Elaine S. Dalton, Young Women general president. "What we are trying to do is connect these young women with the Spirit, with their parents, their leaders, with priesthood, and with righteous role models and mentors. Personal Progress connects the young women with the gospel of Jesus Christ and helps them prepare for the temple. It also connects them with a larger community, because every value experience has a project. I see them using Personal Progress online to expand their service, their impact, their influence in the world."
Launched this August, the online Personal Progress program, found on lds.org, was developed simultaneously with the new Personal Progress books and materials that were released earlier this year.
Sister Mary N. Cook, first counselor in the Young Women general presidency, explained that the program is centered around the eight Young Women values — faith, divine nature, individual worth, knowledge, choice and accountability, good works, integrity and virtue — which will help each young woman define her identity and role 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," she said.
Young women who want to complete Personal Progress work online need to obtain their membership number from their temple recommend for baptisms or their ward clerk and then register. And although their parents, leaders and bishops can track their progress, their online journal is private and secure.
"It is just providing the opportunity for the young women to work where they feel comfortable and at ease," said Sister Ann M. Dibb, second counselor in the Young Women general presidency. "It can be updated quickly. They don't have to worry about losing a hard copy if they move or don't clean their room quickly."
In fact, the program eliminates one thing: "There are no more excuses that a [young woman] lost her book," said Sister Dalton.
Currently available in English, the online program will, at a future date, be available in other languages and as an app, so young women can load it onto their cell phones.
"Anyone, anywhere, anytime can grow spiritually," said Sister Dalton. "This is what it is really all about; it is increasing our faith and testimony in the Savior."
She noted that because scriptures necessary for study are available online with the click of a computer key, the online resource will also accelerate the pace at which young women complete Personal Progress goals.
"It makes it so much easier to do," Sister Dalton said, noting that now Personal Progress can be completed wherever a young woman is when she has Internet access on a computer or cell phone. "You can fill your spare hours studying those scriptures. What I see for the future of this is that more young women will do Personal Progress and grow spiritually."
The program also helps Young Women leaders and the bishop track the progress of each young woman in the ward, said Sister Dibb.
"The bishop can look at the record online and see how long it is has been since a girl has progressed with an experience or he can give that positive feedback when a young woman has completed an experience. The positive feedback a young woman may receive from a priesthood leader could be so beneficial in her developing testimony and activity."
And to the leaders who aren't so sure about working online: "We have leaders that call and say, 'We don't know how to do this' and we say, 'Just get one of the Beehives and she will help you,' " said Sister Dalton.
She said that another benefit to the program is that if a young woman should move from one ward to another, her new leaders can pick up with Personal Progress right where the former leaders left off.
"The big idea is that this is part of a young woman's preparation for the temple," said Sister Dalton. "That is why the picture of the temple is on the front. I think it is also very huge in a day and age when we are not hearing very much about values, that we are still talking about values. These will go into their hearts, hopefully, and into their families. Because it really is these eight Young Women values that strengthen families."
Sister Dibb said, "They strengthen her now and in the future. It really is a foundational piece for her success."
Young women who have started the program in the booklet can choose the medium in which they will continue their work. The online program can be updated in just a short amount of time; journal entries do not need to be copied from a booklet online unless a young woman wants them in that format, said Sister Dibb.
Further, online work can bridge the gap between a young woman and her leaders in areas of the Church where distance is a factor. As a young woman completes work online in Personal Progress, her leaders and parents will be notified when they log-in that she has something ready to be approved.
However, Sister Dalton cautions, "We still need the personal touch."
"It is not about checking off the requirements; it is about an individual young woman and her preparation for the temple."
Sister Dibb said often parents hear about the dangers online — "and they are certainly present." However, she added, "there are so many good things that can build and strengthen them. We hope they will take advantage of these good programs and use them to the utmost."
Sister Dalton said Church leaders are looking down the road 10 to 15 years. "We are looking to a day when, at a click, anyone, anywhere in the world, will be able to access those things that are virtuous and lovely, that bless and strengthen homes and families, and that prepare young women everywhere to make and keep sacred temple covenants. I think that is pretty phenomenal."