Activity time: 20 minutes
Materials for Activity
- Newsprint, markers and tape
- A copy of the story "Valentines for the Governor"
- Red, pink and white construction paper
- Pens, pencils, markers and crayons
- Ribbon, lace doilies, stickers and other valentine decorations; scissors (including left-handed scissors); and glue sticks and/or glitter glue
- Box or large envelope for collecting finished cards
- Optional: Smocks (large discarded T-shirts are a good substitute), and newspaper to cover work tables
Preparation for Activity
- Set valentine-making materials on work tables.
- Write on newsprint and post words or phrases the children may wish to use, such as "valentine," "Happy Valentine's Day," "marriage," "equality," "justice," and legislators' names.
- Recruit extra adult helpers for this activity; consider inviting people who are concerned about your campaign issue, or members of the social action committee.
- Determine target audiences (legislators, local officials, etc.) and obtain contact names and addresses.
- Make a plan to deliver/mail the finished valentines. Be sure, too, to schedule a specific time, some weeks hence, to give children an update on the state or local marriage equality campaign.
Description of Activity
Use this activity instead of Activity 5, Get Involved Action Campaign, if a state or local marriage equality campaign is timely and the session occurs near Valentine's Day. By sending valentines to elected officials, children experience our fifth Principle, using the democratic process to promote an issue of conscience. Say, in your own words:
Unitarian Universalists believe in the democratic process. For the democratic process to work, people have to get involved.
Ask the children for ideas of how people get involved in a democracy. Affirm voting for president, mayor, or another official; campaigning for a leader to win an election; and working for change to make our laws more fair. Say:
When you are older, you will be able to vote for leaders who, in turn, can work for change by improving our laws. But people of any age can get involved in a democracy by telling our leaders and decision-makers what we want and what we think. That's what the congregations in California did. Through their valentines, they told the governor that all love is equal and that California 's laws about marriage should be more fair.
Ask the children for examples of leaders and decision-makers - people who have power to change or make laws. Affirm the U.S. president and your state's governor. Mention the names of elected officials to whom the children will send valentines today.
Affirm that your congregation makes decisions using a democratic process. Mention congregational leaders by name (minister, director of religious education, music director, board president, board members). Explain they are chosen by the congregation's members.
NOTE: In a child's experience, school and family also have "laws" and leaders (principals, teachers, parents) who make them. Be ready to clarify that there are situations where adults have power and responsibility to make decisions for children. However, because we live in a democracy, most schools, communities and families use rules to promote both safety and fairness. These groups provide, or could provide, ways for children to contribute their ideas about good, safe and fair rules. You might say:
As Unitarian Universalists, we believe children have both a right and responsibility to contribute their ideas about matters that concern them, especially when their conscience tells them something isn't right or fair.
Tell the group about the state or local marriage equality campaign. Explain that, like the children in California, you will send a message about love to leaders who have power to make laws about marriage. Brainstorm messages children might use in their valentines and add suggested words or phrases to the newsprint you have posted. Refer to the story "Valentines for the Governor" to spark children's ideas.
Invite participants to create valentines with messages about marriage equality. Actively circulate to help them organize materials and articulate their ideas.
Collect finished valentines and prepare for mailing or delivery.
Be sure to follow up on this campaign with the children in a future session of Faithful Journeys. Even if you receive no response, be ready to update the children on your local marriage equality campaign and help them reflect on the experience.
Including All Participants
Children this age show a wide range in writing ability. Give children the option of dictating their thoughts for an adult or another child to write.