What Programs Will We Offer Kids in 2023-2024?
We are on summer break, but our next program-year launches in September. Spread the word! We are reaching out especially but not exclusively to families with preschool-age children.
On Sunday, September 17th from 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. we will have an informational fair (with a bounce house and other activities for children) answering questions for families about all of our 2023-2024 programs. Please talk with the families you know about this fair, share on social media groups and on your own social media pages, and print and post copies of this flyer in your community.
With a special emphasis on community outreach and building a robust selection of programs for preschool-age children, we will run any of the following for which we reach minimum enrollment numbers. Additional programs, including those discussed at our March congregational meeting, will be planned as we have volunteers come forward to help make them happen. You can click here to let us know how you might be able to help.
- Spirit Play – a weekly Montessori-style Sunday School
- Music and Movement – an eight-week special program
- Girl Sprouts – introduction to scouting
- Elementary and Middle School
- “Forest School Lite” – a weekly forest-school-inspired, child-led, play-centered ministry open to kids in elementary through middle school
- Middle School Youth Group – monthly social activities
- High School
- High School Youth Group – weekly educational, spiritual, and social activities (this year plans include taking a big trip together!)
- (Possible) Coming of Age – a right of passage program
- (Possible) Monthly Pride – a monthly LGBTQIA+ friendly dance/party
- Parents and Guardians
- Interfaith Rituals for Healing After Miscarriage – a four-session program designed by Gina Cassetta and co-led by Gina Cassetta and Rev. Sierra-Marie Gerfao, offered in the fall
- Conscious Parenting – a parenting group for caregivers of preschoolers
- Caring for the Pride – a group for parents and guardians of LGBTQIA+ people of any age
- Neighborhood Bridges – a multigenerational “neighboring faiths” program for learning about and building relationships with other faith communities
- Note: We will continue our experimentation with multigenerational activities such as our monthly Community Dinners and Social Action activities (times and days to be determined) as groups in the congregation volunteer to host them. The Religious Education Ministry Team is offering to host the first community dinner of the year in October.
- All plans will be adjusted according to attendance numbers.
At the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Danbury, all ministers and staff are part-time. Our programs are the result of the efforts of the whole community. In March, we met as a community and gave a lot of thought to how we can grow ministries for children and youth in a new era. If we are going to make these plans a reality, we will need everyone to pitch in. That doesn’t mean everyone will be working directly with children (roles with children take a volunteer application and background check). There are greatly varying opportunities to contribute. Please take a few minutes to fill out this form to let us know how you might be able to pitch in.
Connecting With Other Faiths
In the upcoming year we will run an updated and multigenerational version of Neighboring Faiths, a popular religious education program, offering a chance to learn about and make connections with other faith communities in Greater Danbury. Do you have connections with another faith community in the area? Did you grow up in another faith tradition? Do you have a dual religious affiliation? Our Director of Religious Education, Sierra-Marie Gerfao, would like your help planning this program. Please reach out to her in August at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Save the Date Notices – Children, Youth, and Family Ministries
Families with children and youth, please mark the following dates on your family calendar:
• Sunday, August 27th – Backpack blessings (kids, teens, and young adults please bring your backpack- after the service we will be blessing all backpacks for the return to school)
• Sunday, September 10th – Homecoming service
• Sunday September 17th – Children and Youth Ministry Fall Fair, 10:30AM-12:00PM! We are inviting families from across Greater Danbury, so please help spread the word. The Fair is for all ages but our promotional materials reflect a special focus this year on building programs for families with preschool-aged children.
• Sunday, September 24th – Fall programs will begin launching
Register for 2023-2024 Children and Youth Programs
Please click here to register your children and youth for 2023-2024 Nursery Care or Children and Youth Programs. This registration form takes most families about 10-15 minutes to complete and is a required form for nursery care and all programs. As long as you complete this form, your children and youth are ready to participate in our regular programs (Spirit Play, Forest School, youth groups, etc.). It will also be a very simple process to sign up for additional special programs as they are offered (Girl Sprouts introduction to scouting, preschool Music and Movement class, etc.).
Religious Education Summer Office Hours
In July and August, our Children and Youth Programs are on summer break. Sierra-Marie will:
• Be out of the office for much of July due to a combination of professional development obligations and vacation time and will not have an opportunity to read emails sent during that month. Phone calls will be returned for emergencies.
• Be happy to meet with community members through most of August. Online appointments are available throughout the week. In-person appointments are available on some Sundays. Please email email@example.com to schedule an appointment.
A Note on Welcoming Newcomers in Children and Youth Ministries
In an effort to be as welcoming as possible to families newly joining us, we have been reducing our use of abbreviations in children’s programming. When we use an abbreviation, we make sure to always stop and share what it means. Even though it takes a little longer, it is worth ensuring that we aren’t using insider language that can make newcomers feel left out and uncertain what we are talking about.
Lately, we have also been moving away from the term Religious Education because in this era it too is a bit of “insider language” that is unfamiliar to families newly joining us. They tend to ask things like “Do you have programs for kids?” When we respond by talking about “Religious Education,” this opens more questions than it answers. For this reason, we have started using more familiar and direct terms like “Children and Youth Programs” and “Children and Youth Ministries.”