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What should Latter-day Saints do in the 19 months before the new youth initiative launches? 'Keep moving forward'

A lot can happen in 19 months. Not convinced?

• Nineteen months is about eight times as long as Columbus’ voyage to America and nine times as long as the Mayflower’s journey.

• Nineteen months is five-and-a-half times as long as the Spanish-American War.

• Child development experts say a 19-month-old toddler can usually use a spoon and fork, and may even be able to run unaided and wash and dry his or her hands.

• And 19 months is about 30 days longer than a sister missionary’s typical length of service.

In about 19 months, the Church will be implementing a new, global initiative for children and youth designed to help them discover their eternal identity, develop character and life skills and “fulfill their divine roles as daughters and sons of God.”

But what to do in the meantime?

History has proven much can happen in 19 months — and Church leaders hope the time leading up to the historic youth initiative will be, well, time well spent.

In the days following the initiative announcement, the leaders of the Primary, Young Women and Young Men general presidencies are sounding a unified call: Keep moving forward.

“As young women, we follow the Savior Jesus Christ,” said Sister Bonnie H. Cordon, Young Women general president, ”and since we are all in, right now, Personal Progress is what we are all doing so that we stay progressing on the covenant path.”

Young Men general president Stephen W. Owen said it’s essential that Aaronic Priesthood holders also continue to progress. Stay involved over the next 19 month with Duty To God and, where applicable, Scouting.

“The rising generation continues to grow,” he said. “We don’t want then to plateau and be in neutral for the next year and a half.”

“I enjoy hearing of the creative activities our girls and boys are involved in through Faith in God, Activity Days and Scouting,” said Sister Joy D. Jones, Primary general president. “I am grateful for faithful parents and leaders who engage our young people in uplifting and meaningful experiences that teach them the importance and fun of learning, developing testimony and talents, and serving others. Nothing has changed. This time is precious and wonderful opportunities continue to exist to help our children progress and become the valiant souls Heavenly Father invites them to be. We have so much to be grateful for in the gospel of Jesus Christ — past, present and future. Let’s stay the course.”

It’s vital that youth, and their advisors and parents, take full advantage of whatever program is being utilized in their respective units while focusing on activities that prompt development, Brother Owens added. Stay enthused and seek opportunities to serve, learn, grow and develop.

The year-and-a-half leading up to the new initiative’s implementation represents an essential window in the lives of children and youth, the leaders agreed. It must not be wasted.

Ask a sister missionary about all that can happen in 18 months, said Sister Cordon. “Changes happen, but our covenants don’t change and the opportunity to grow and progress doesn’t change.”

The months leading up to the new initiative stand as key preparatory months, said Brother Owen, who encourages members worldwide to continue to review over the Church-produced “Frequently Asked Questions” pages.

“We went through each of those questions and answers extensively,” he said.