"We definitely do not replace parents," she said. "We assist parents and priesthood leaders in that purpose. And we have a lot of tools."
She and her counselors in the Young Women general presidency, Sister Mary N. Cook and Sister Ann M. Dibb, hope leaders have discovered some of the many resources that can help them work with the youth. They recently met with the Church News to discuss some of those tools.
"There are a lot of resources that are out there right now for parents, priesthood leaders and Young Women leaders and youth that will help them on the path to the temple," said Sister Cook.
ONLINE PERSONAL PROGRESS
Sister Dalton said the Church has made changes and upgrades to online Personal Progress. "We have tried to make it even better," she said. "We want young women to learn the gospel, we want them to live the gospel, we want them to share the gospel. Personal Progress helps them learn the gospel and it also helps them live it as they develop patterns of private religious behavior."
Some improvements include:
Mentoring: One new feature is the ability of young women to track "mentoring" efforts online through Honor Bee tracking. (Once a young woman completes her Young Women Recognition Award, she can begin working for an Honor Bee. The Honor Bee is a recognition award earned by reading the Book of Mormon again and completing 40 hours of service — part of which includes mentoring another young woman in her Personal Progress efforts.)
Sister Dalton said young women have responded positively to the invitation to be a mentor. "We are thrilled with the response the young women have had to the mentoring," she said. "I think they have learned about mentoring because mothers have been working with their daughters on Personal Progress. They are excited to get their medallion so they can go on and get their Honor Bee. And when they mentor another young woman, their testimony grows as they teach and testify of the things they know to be true through their own experience."
Sister Dalton said it takes a "large amount of effort to get a small, little bee" but that effort is well worth it.
Special needs and American Sign Language: Another new tool for Young Women leaders is a special section on the online Personal Progress site in American Sign Language and for those with other special needs. "It will give parents and leaders help in making some adaptations," said Sister Cook. "We think all young women can benefit from growing and it helps give them additional help to accomplish their goals."
Everyone can progress, said Sister Cook. "We all progress at different rates and we learn in different ways. Special needs has taken that into account."
Improved Tracking Sheets: In addition, priesthood leaders, as well as young women leaders, will find improved tracking sheets online so they will be able to track what the young women are working on and where they could use help, said Sister Dibb.
Members of other faiths: Because young women originally needed a membership number to complete Personal Progress online, members of other faiths could not participate online.
In response to feedback, Church leaders have now set up a system where youth who are members of other faiths can participate online. Because they do not have a membership number they will not be associated with a specific unit for leaders to view, but they can work independently. "We just didn't realize how many non-member young women were actually doing it and accomplishing those goals," said Sister Cook.
Young women leaders also hope that Latter-day Saint youth and their leaders will visit the Church's youth website, youth.lds.org.
Every month, the website has new videos and other updates. Talks and quotes from current General Authorities are included on the site.
Articles and videos are "relevant in the lives of Latter-day Saint teens," said Sister Cook, noting they can be used in devotionals, Sunday lessons, youth committee meetings and other Church settings.
The information is all sharable, so the youth can share it with their friends on Facebook and Twitter, Sister Dalton said.
Parents and leaders should be aware of what is there so they can use these resources to help instill Church teachings into the hearts and lives of the youth, said Sister Dalton. "Because we feel that in order for the youth to remain faithful and worthy to receive promised blessings, they need to be riveted on the words of the prophets. Technology is helping us a lot. It is really wonderful that the words of one prophet can go all over the world in one minute." Sister Dalton said that technology is helping parents and leaders build a fortress around the youth and strengthen them.
"These youth are hungry for spiritual things. I think as leaders we have our hands full just to keep up with them, because they are on fire," she said. "The ones who are taking advantage of these things are on fire with a testimony."
WORLDWIDE TRAINING LIBRARY
The Young Women section of the Worldwide Training Library (lds.org/service/leadership) teaches leaders how to introduce Personal Progress to parents and young women. "It shows leaders how to teach the standards and exemplify them in their lives," said Sister Dalton.
It also teaches leaders how to help youth take advantage of the Young Women experience, said Sister Cook. "It is a visual representation of the principles, found in the handbook (Handbook 2: Administering the Church), on the family and supporting priesthood leaders," said Sister Cook.
Sister Dalton added, "In our efforts to assist parents and priesthood leaders in strengthening individuals and families, we are grateful for these resources and the technology that makes delivering them possible. It really is all about helping each young woman become converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ and our prayer is that these things will assist in this superlative goal."