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Participants (Virtue Ethics)

Virtue Ethics is designed for use with high school-age youth. All youth do not arrive at each developmental stage at the same time, yet knowing what to expect overall from fourteen- to eighteen-year-olds can be helpful, especially for first-time leaders. In her book, Nurturing Children and Youth: A Developmental Guidebook (Boston: Unitarian Universalist Association, 2005), Tracey Hurd discusses typical developmental characteristics of older youth:

  • practices increased cognitive skills
  • expresses growing interest in abstract values and moral principles
  • engages in moral relativism
  • becomes less egocentric and more interested in the larger society
  • struggles with gender and sexual identities
  • continues to develop ethnic or racial identity
  • needs to belong and have a sense of self worth
  • demonstrates empathy
  • conceptualizes religion as an outside authority that can be questioned
  • questions faith, sometimes leading to deeper ownership of personal faith or disillusionment
  • deepens or attenuates religious or spiritual identity
  • explores sexuality
  • navigates greater risks relating to alcohol, drug use, and unsafe sexual activity
  • sustains the personal fable that "it couldn't happen to me"
  • considers friendships and peers important, with some shifting of alliances.

Integrating All Participants

No one should be excluded from this program or its activities by real or perceived physical or other limitations. Inclusiveness sometimes requires adaptation; you may need to modify an activity or use an alternate activity to fully include youth with a range of physical and cognitive abilities and learning styles.

Take note of activities that might pose difficulties for youth who are differently abled. All spaces, indoor and outdoor, need to be accessible to anyone who might be in the group. Check the width of doorways and aisles, the height of tables, and the terrain of outdoor landscapes. When you will invite youth to write on posted newsprint, meet in small groups, gather around a centering table, or otherwise move about the space, make sure everyone can move as you are requesting, or adapt the activity. Strategize how you will include youth with sight or hearing limitations when an activity relies on these senses.

When possible, arrange volunteers to read aloud before a workshop and give them the written material in advance. Allow youth the opportunity to pass on any roles that require reading. Be prepared to support young people who wish to read, but need assistance.

Find out about participants' medical conditions and allergies, particularly to food. Make sure all your youth can eat the food you plan to use for an activity, or change the food.

Always be ready to do what is needed to keep the workshops safe for any participant who needs assistance or accommodation to ask for and receive it.

A helpful resource book is Sally Patton's Welcoming Children with Special Needs. The congregation's religious educator is another resource for making workshops as accessible and inclusive as possible.

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Last updated on Wednesday, October 29, 2014.

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