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 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.

Give in to Hope Day 36: Katie Stagliano

When Katie Stagliano was only 9 years old, she grew a cabbage. But not just any cabbage, a gigantic 40 pound cabbage! She donated this cabbage to her local food pantry, who used it to make a meal that fed an incredible 275 people! Katie was inspired to grow more crops in her home garden to help feed people in need, but realized that she was only one person. The more people, growing more crops, in more gardens across the country, could help feed the hungry everywhere! She created Katie’s Krops, a program that taught kids how to create their own home and community gardens to connect with food pantry’s in their community. Katie’s Krops now oversees 100 gardens in 30 states, donating about 38,000 pounds of fresh produce to those in need every year! It is important to Katie that the gardens are developed and run by kids. She wants to keep her non-profit kid centered and kid-led, as she knows how passionate and creative young people can be, but often they are unable to volunteer at many places because of their age. She knows that age is not a barrier to caring and wanting to make change, and so Katie strives to give kids as many opportunities to serve as possible!

To learn more about Katie Stagliano: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B6aA7TAzdAs

Have you ever grown something? At school or at your house? What are some of the things that plants need in order to grow? What are some of the things that people need in order to grow?

Closing prayer: Dear God, Who knows how much good can come from something as humble as a cabbage seed. Let us not forget the big potential in tiny things. Amen.

Give in to Hope Day 35: Melati and Isabel Wijsen

Cereal, snacks, and so much more–the amount of items that come wrapped in plastic seems to be growing every day. For Isabel and Melati Wijsen, who live on the island of Bali, they were horrified to see the “tides” of plastic waste that washed up on the beaches of the beautiful island nation, polluting the water and endangering the animals and sea life. When they were only 10 and 12, the sisters made it their goal to eliminate plastic bags from Bali, thereby making a dent in the amount of plastic waste in the region. In Bali alone, the amount of plastic waste that used to be created daily was the equivalent size of a 14 story building! Bye Bye Plastic Bags, the nonprofit founded by the sisters, was originally a small-scale effort, but the girls knew that real change would only occur if they had political power behind them. When the Balinese governor would not meet with them, they want on a doctor-supervised hunger strike (meaning they didn’t eat) until the governor relented, met with them, and committed to help with their goal. By 2018, Bali banned plastic bags, styrofoam containers and plastic straws, and the girls had started a new project, launching Youthtopia, “an online headquarters for young world changers” in 2020. These girls want to empower other young people, like them, to find projects that are meaningful to them, and to jump in to make a change!

To learn more about Melati and Isabel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I7xPMxbdFbQ

To hear about Youthtopia from Melati: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qEZ8Dmm8P8I

What are some of the common things that you see that come in plastic bags? Does your family already do things to use fewer plastic bags? Are there other things you could do to make less plastic waste? If your family still uses a lot of plastic bags, are there ways you could reduce your use?

Dear God, Help us remember that the trash we make doesn’t just affect us, but everyone around us. Let us be stewards of the Earth, for it is the only one we have. Amen.

Give in to Hope Day 34: Anoyara Khatun

When you hear the word traffic, you probably think of being stuck on a highway or busy city street, with lots of cars around you, and none of the cars seem to be moving at all. That is an explanation of traffic, but if you hear the word trafficking, it usually means to do something against the law, to move animals or people from one city or country to another without their permission. Often people, typically very poor people, are taken to another country to work as servants, maids, do childcare, pick crops, or other jobs, and they may not receive any pay for this, essentially making them slaves. Sadly, this happens to too many people, particularly children, every year, including our hero of today, Anoyara Khatun. When she was only 12, Anoyara was taken from her home and sent away to be a domestic servant (a housekeeper, cook, maid, etc.) for a wealthy family. She was rescued by an organization called Save the Children, and able to return home, but she realized that her case was not rare and that children all over India, and the world, were experiencing trafficking every year.  With help from Save the Children, Anoyara started discussion groups for children, run by children, all around the region where she lived to help kids have a better understanding of what trafficking is, how it could happen, and ways to prevent it. After getting these groups started, she wanted to do more. She has worked with Save the Children to rescue 185 other children from trafficking, helped prevent multiple child marriages, and registered hundreds of children to attend school, many for the first time! She has received India’s highest honor for her work to end trafficking, but she has said she will not stop until every child is able to have the childhood they deserve.

To learn more about Anoyara: https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/child-trafficking-anoyara-khatun-women-power-award/

or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QZ_tx5q7890

What are some of your favorite things to do at school? How do you think those children who Anoyara rescued felt, when they no longer had to be a servant, and got to go to school for the first time?

Closing prayer: Dear God, Every child deserves a childhood and no one deserves to be trafficked. Bless Anoyara and others who help give children back their childhoods. Amen.

Give in to Hope Day 33: Sophie Cruz

Spending time with family seems like a pretty normal experience for most of us, but when a child has parents who are living in a country as undocumented immigrants (which means they don’t have the papers that they need to be in that country legally) it can be extremely scary, as you never know if your parents will get taken away, deported back to the country they came from. For 5-year-old Sophie Cruz, she worried about this all the time. She was born in the United States, but her parents were from Oaxaca, and she did not want to be separated from them. When her family had the opportunity to see the Pope (the leader of the Catholic church), she broke past security to attempt to give the Pope a letter she had written, pleading with him to save her parents from deportation. The Pope saw Sophie, stopped his motorcade, and accepted her letter. The next day, at his meeting with members of the US Congress, he urged more compassion and acceptance for immigrants and refugees. Since this historic meeting, Sophie has also met President Obama, spoken at the Women’s March, spoken out against the Trump Administration, and continued to work on behalf of undocumented immigrants and helping them stay legally in the US. This tiny activist is someone who people want to pay attention to, and her passion to keep her family, and thousands like them, together, keep her focused on change.

To learn more about Sophie: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qPa464CEbuE

To see Sophie’s meeting with the Pope: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V7RIkeCgcz0

What would it feel like if you were worried the parent/guardian that you live with would be sent away? How would this affect you at home, at school, with your friends? If you had to write a letter to someone important, telling them why families should be able to stay together, what reasons would you give?

Closing Prayer: Dear God, Every voice, no matter how small, can make a big difference. Help us use ours. Amen.

NIGHTTIME WITH NINA

with Nina Jonson

Other videos in this series are available here.

Events with Children

Events with Youth