Children, Youth and Families

Children have a very special place at Plymouth. We teach our young people Biblical stories through a progressive Christian lens. We emphasize the arts and social justice from a young age. The work and development of our young people are integrated into every part of building our church community.

As children grow up at Plymouth they move into the Youth Program, the youth of our congregation are actively living their spirituality, exploring relevant issues, and learning the history of the Christian faith. Our Children and Youth leadership develop and offer service activities, retreats, and camps to benefit our young people’s spiritual development and meet them, exactly where they are on their journey.

For more information, contact our Director or Children and Youth Ministries Nina Jonson, ninaj (at) plymouth.org.

Updates From Nina

Give in to Hope Day 41: Sparsh Shah

I am sure someone you know has broken a bone. Maybe you’ve even broken one once. Can you imagine what it would be like to have your bones crack and break all the time, every day, from doing simple things like sitting, standing, or brushing your teeth? Sparsh Shah doesn’t have to imagine this. It is what he experiences every day, as part of his diagnosis of Osteogenesis Imperfecta (or “brittle bone disorder”). Sparsh was even born with 35 broken bones! For his safety and mobility, he uses a motorized wheelchair to get around and hasn’t been able to be as physically active as other kids his age. Not being able to run or play rough games or sports hasn’t stopped Sparsh. He writes his own music and raps, sings, plays piano and records covers, raises tons of money for charities across the country, and is a motivational speaker, cheering on adults and kids and encouraging people to not let anything hold them back. Sparsh has not let his challenges get in the way of making his dreams come true!

To learn more about Sparsh Shah: https://youtu.be/X9amik3e-AA

Listen to Sparsh: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CqwzlMUt9oM

Do you have any dreams that seem hard to achieve? Are there things you tell yourself (I’m not good enough, I’m not brave enough) that stand in your way? What could you tell yourself to be your own cheerleader?

Closing prayer: Dear God, give us positivity, determination and a great attitude like Sparsh, and watch us change the world. Amen.

Give in to Hope Day 40: Param Jaggi

Param Jaggi has always been interested in science, and in the idea that kids can change the world. You’ll often hear him ask “how am I supposed to change the world if there isn’t a world I can live in?” When he was just a young kid, he invented a filter that can go on the exhaust pipe of the car, or motorcycle, or other emissions-releasing pipes, and can filter out the carbon dioxide using algae! An incredible invention that can make the air cleaner and healthier for us all. He has continued his interest in the environment, specifically reducing how much carbon dioxide is emitted into the air. He is fascinated with the alternative sources that we can use to create energy, including the sun, water, and the wind. At only 18 he started his own alternative energy company! With people like Param around, we are more likely to have a healthy world for world-changers like all of you to grow up in!

To learn more about Param Jaggi: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J1-qvjPqaJ0

What are some ways people you know are making the world a better place? Have you ever let them know how much you appreciate them? How could you tell them?

Closing Prayer: Dear God, Let us take care of the world, so we have a better one to grow up in! Amen.

Give in to Hope Day 39: Iqbal Masih

Iqbal Masih was born in Pakistan to an extremely poor family. At one point in time, the family had borrowed a small sum of money, but they had been unable to pay back their debt. When Iqbal was only 4, the carpet merchant who had loaned his family the money demanded payment, that the Masih’s did not have. The carpet merchant took Iqbal and said his small size and nimble fingers would be helpful, and that he could work off his family’s debt. Like many other poor children, Iqbal was forced to work 12 hour days on a loom making carpets, even though he was only a tiny child. At around 10, Iqbal was able to escape this slavery but was again recaptured and forced to work. After escaping again, he was able to go to school for the first time, at a special school for kids who had been slave laborers. He immediately began speaking out about his experiences, being an advocate for ending child labor, and helping thousands of other children escape from slave labor. He, unfortunately, died at only 12 years old, most likely killed by someone who was angry about him speaking out against child labor. The amount of good that Iqbal was able to do in his extremely short life inspired other young people in countries around the world to speak out against this forced, unpaid labor, and for some countries to make changes in their laws to better protect the rights of children and the poor.

To learn more about Iqbal Masih: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UStGtNe6VJ0

If you had the chance to tell someone the best thing about being a kid, what would you say? Who is the bravest kid that you know? Why do you consider them so brave?

Closing Prayer: Dear God, No child should have to die for being brave, and speaking out against what is wrong. Let us continue to speak for Iqbal. Amen.

Give in to Hope Day 38: Christian Bucks

Have you ever had a moment when you just felt like you needed a friend? What would it be like to walk into a classroom, a cafeteria, or the playground and not have anyone to play with? When Christian Bucks moved to a new town because of his dad’s work, he saw a school with a bench that kids could sit on if they were feeling lonely. The school had taught all the kids to keep an eye on the bench, and if they saw a kid on it, they should go help that kid feel included and less lonely. Christian loved the idea and brought the bench to his school administrators, and then wanted to get the Buddy Bench out to as many schools as possible. Christian is not the inventor of Buddy Benches, but he was instrumental in getting information out about them to the media, who loved the idea, and it caught on and spread to schools all over the United States, and even the world! Christian is a kid like lots of us, moving to a new school, a little nervous about how to make friends, but once he saw a potential solution, he realized that he wasn’t the only lonely kid in the world and that other kids could benefit from not only the Buddy Bench, but training about how to be welcoming, inclusive and friendly to all kids at a school. Christian didn’t want to be a bystander, he wanted to be a buddy, and because of him, there are fewer schools with kids looking for a friendly face!

To learn more about Christian Bucks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-Go26RiCMM

To get a Buddy Bench for your school: http://buddybench.org/get-involved/bring-bench-school/

What are ways you can be more inclusive to kids at your school and in your class? Are there ideas you could suggest to your teacher, that might help kids feel more included and less alone? How do you hope all the kids at your school feel when they come to school each day?

Closing prayer: Dear God, Let us always look for the people searching for a friend and stretch out our hands and hearts to them. Amen.

Give in to Hope Day 37: Jazz Jennings

Jazz Jennings is not the first transgender activist we have talked about during our Lenten series, but she is arguably the most famous young person who is transgender (where the gender a person knows they are in their mind and heart may not match with their chromosomes or body parts). According to her parents, even though she was born with traditionally “male” body parts, Jazz identified as a girl as soon as she could talk. In 2007 (which isn’t that long ago, but is quite early in the fight for transgender visibility among young people), 7-year-old Jazz was interviewed by Barbara Walters, and families with children outside the gender binary got an incredible advocate, cheerleader and role model. Since then, Jazz has hosted tv shows, written a book, has a reality show, and continues to be one of the loudest and proudest voices in support of young people’s understanding of their gender identity. Jazz is an ally to all.

To learn more about Jazz Jennings: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bJw3s85EcxM

Jazz started telling her parents that she wasn’t a boy, she was a girl, as soon as she could talk. She always knew, and she was lucky her parents trusted her to know her own identity. Have you ever tried to tell adults something and felt like they didn’t listen to you or didn’t trust you because you were a kid? How did it feel? How does it feel when an adult does listen to you and believe you?

Closing prayer: Dear God, Let us listen to the voices of the young. They hold much wisdom. Amen.

NIGHTTIME WITH NINA

with Nina Jonson

Other videos in this series are available here.

Children’s Chior

Events with Children

Events with Youth