“This is no ordinary time and you are no ordinary young woman.”
This statement helps introduce the new Personal Progress program to the young women of the Church. The program, outlining goals and experiences based upon the seven values, is designed to guide you through the six years you are in the Young Women program.
The introduction in the Personal Progress booklet explains the emphasis of the program. “During the few years you are in Young Women, you will become better acquainted with the natural gifts and talents you have received from your Father in Heaven. You will come to realize that as you prepare yourself you will have many opportunities to reach out to others in service and to play a major part in helping build the kingdom of God in these latter days.”
The Personal Progress program stresses that, as a young woman, you should stand for truth and righteousness by living the standards of personal worthiness, studying scriptures regularly, keeping a journal, recording a personal history, and participating in Value Experiences.
At the end of a year, you will receive a Report of Progress. When you complete your Beehive years and have completed the responsibilities outlined in the program, you will receive the Young Woman of Truth Recognition. At the end of your Mia Maid years, you will receive the Young Woman of Promise Recognition. And upon completing the Laurel years, you will receive the Young Woman of Faith Recognition. After you have received the recognition for each age group, you may also wear the jewelry for that age group. By completing responsibilities for all six years, you will receive the highest honor given in the program—the Young Womanhood Recognition.
Since the values have been introduced, young women have been encouraged to set their goals related to the Young Women Values. These goals will fit in with the experiences encouraged by the new Personal Progress program.
A couple of years ago, in Tampa, Florida, Young Women leaders discovered that the girls in their charge did not know the values or understand how the values could operate in their lives. In order to change this, the Young Women leaders helped the girls identify a value with each goal they worked on and asked that the girls write 300 words about their experience and the value that applied to it. As one leader explained, “Our intent was not to have the girls count 300 words but for them to have significant experiences.”
Kelly McGuirt of the Tampa Florida Third Ward took the challenge. She was among the first group of Laurels to complete her Young Womanhood Recognition, identifying the value that went with each goal. It was a lot of writing because she went the extra mile and went back and wrote about the goals completed in all her years in the Young Women program. Encouraged by her Young Women leader, Kelly chose as a Laurel project to become involved in the community March of Dimes. She led a team committee to get teenagers interested in the Walk-a-thon the March of Dimes sponsored in the area. It was easy for her to identify the value of good works in her project.
Living the Young Women Values has helped Joanne Larsen of the Calgary Alberta 12th Ward introduce the Church to a friend. In Young Women meeting they talked about giving a copy of the Book of Mormon to a friend. This class goal got Joanne interested, and she gave a copy to her friend. She also invited her friend to girls’ camp and to ward activities. Now the friend is taking the discussions from missionaries in Joanne’s home.
Several young women have had interesting experiences with their scripture reading. One Laurel from Provo, Utah, set a goal to read scriptures more regularly. She decided to visit her grandmother each week and read to her during the visit. The experience not only helped her with her scripture study; it helped her to develop a closeness to her grandmother.
Melissa Blue from Bellevue, Washington, started reading her scriptures each night with no set time limit or page number in mind. Melissa said, “At first I’d read only a little bit. But I found myself getting interested and wanting to read more and more. Now I’m in Mosiah in the Book of Mormon.”
The Young Women of the Bountiful Utah Stake got together and created a plan to encourage each other in their resolve to read the scriptures. They call it the “TEN” plan. TEN stands for Ten Every Night. Each young woman reads at least ten minutes each day (or night). After they have read for seven consecutive days, they receive a “TEN” pin. If they miss a day, they must read three consecutive days before they can wear their TEN pin again. All over the stake girls are wearing their pins, and they make an effort to keep their good habit, so they can continue being a TEN.
A Young Women leader in the Provo Utah Edgemont North Stake said that encouraging the girls to apply the values to their lives has had some wonderful results. One girl now has a better understanding of her divine nature after setting a goal to receive her patriarchal blessing. Her new sense of self-esteem and purpose have added new dimensions to her life.
Another young lady worked with her leader on overcoming her fear of speaking before a group. She gave a talk in a Young Women meeting to an appreciative audience.
The new Personal Progress program should reinforce all the good experiences and projects that you have already undertaken in the Young Women program. It will add structure and purpose to the age groups. Each year will build on the year before. And Young Women all over the world will stand as a beacon of truth and righteousness.
The new Personal Progress booklets, certificates, and jewelry are available as of April 1 through the distribution centers.