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September 27, 2010—The pilot group of 19 participants in the first Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) and Interfaith Youth Core training program, held last January, have been using their leadership skills to lead youth interfaith action in their local communities.

In February, Beth Kline, Director of Religious Education at Emerson Unitarian Universalist Congregation (Marietta, Georgia), and her training teammate, high school senior Katy Kline, initiated a service project with the Boys & Girls Club in Carrollton, Georgia, where Katy was taking courses at the University of West Georgia. The clean-up of the Boys & Girls Club facility on March 13 included volunteers from Katy’s Advanced Academy program at the university, a university-based service and study group, and a Christian campus alliance.

In March, youth from First Parish of Sudbury (Massachusetts), led by Robyn Ralli and Roberta Altamari, hosted a Cardboard City homelessness awareness overnight event, joined by a Catholic youth. Participants were asked to bring $5, items for a donation to a local food pantry, and a cardboard box big enough to sleep in.

In April, youth from the Unitarian Universalist Church of Rockville (Maryland) and the River Road UU Congregation, with their adult advisors and a youth from a Jewish congregation, held a Cardboard City sleep-out on the grounds of the Rockville congregation. Coordinated by Lisi and Beth Irikura, the event raised $733 for the Montgomery County Coalition for the Homeless and Interfaith Works, both organizations that help homeless people.

Youth from the Unitarian Church In Westport, Connecticut joined with a Methodist youth group to organize a youth contingent for an April 11 fundraising walk for Communities Responding to Overcome Poverty (CROP). The teams at the helm were Evan Field and Carl Serbell and Elise Thomson and Lily Rappaport. Youth from Orthodox and Reform Jewish, Catholic, and United Church of Christ faith communities helped make youth participation about half the 150 people on the three-mile walk.

The Greenville (South Carolina) Unitarian Universalist Fellowship senior and middle school youth, led by training teammates Michael Robinson and Bruce Cable, organized an interfaith candlelight vigil for Haiti on April 23. The event on a busy community street corner gathered about 75 participants for music and prayers to raise awareness of the continuing need in Haiti.

The UUA will repeat this training for youth/adult leadership teams during the 2010-11 year. If you are someone, or know someone, who would like to build skills for leading interfaith youth projects in their home community, contact Jessica York, UUA Youth Programs Director.

The January training, workshops at GA and district gatherings, and the development of A Chorus of Faiths, a Tapestry of Faith interfaith leadership curriculum for UU youth, have been supported by a Large Grant from the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Shelter Rock (New York).

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