Activity Days, Mormon Feminist Style
I’m currently an Activity Days leader in my ward. After a bit of floundering (i.e. aimlessly doing crafts), I’ve recently started to revel in my freedom with this calling. I’ve now caught the vision of what it can be: a group of girls learning about issues/injustices/suffering in the world and about women who are doing things to help those situations, followed by actions to help or bring attention to these issues. I’m putting the activist into Activity Days!
The books Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls , volumes 1 and 2 (expensive but worth it to me) have served as cornerstones for me as I’ve made my plans. The books highlight hundreds of important women in very short profiles, told in a way that appeals to tween and younger girls. We’ve had terrific discussions after I read to them about a particular woman and ask the kids how they would have dealt with x problem or why it’s important that this person did the work they did.
I’ve decided to divide Activity Days into one or two month long units. To give you a glimpse of what this kind of Activity Days approach looks like, here’s a rundown of some units I’ve planned/am planning and what we actually did/will do in our weekly hour-long meetings.
- Helping Animals: An Animal Shelter Drive Unit
- meet a dog who was rescued from a bad situation and make posters and flyers to advertise our drive
- talk about Jane Goodall and the work she’s done with primates; make homemade dog biscuits to donate to a rescue org
- deliver homemade dog biscuits and learn about the rescue
- read some quotes by MLK and Gandhi about the importance of being kind to animals and make no-sew fleece dog blankets, according to the shelter’s specifications
- make catnip toys out of recycled baby socks
- take supplies to the shelter and take a 45 minute tour of the shelter
2. Promoting Girls’ Education Unit
- read about Malala Yousafzai in the Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls book, talk about the kind of courage she had to promote girls’ education and what she meant when she said, “One child, one teacher, one book,one pen can change the world.” Make homemade lip balm to remind girls that their voices and mouths are powerful instruments for speaking out against injustice.
- embark on a drive to raise funds ($116) to sponsor two girls’ educations for a year, through the International Rescue Committee. (This organization has a strong reputation on Charity Navigator.) Make posters and flyers advertising services the AD girls will be doing to raise funds.
- bake goods and hold a bake sale
- host a group babysitting project (supervised by me and other AD leaders) in which people bring their kids to my house for two hours one Saturday for cheap babysitting. Girls will plan and play games with the little kids.
- spearhead a shoe drive in the ward and local community. This organization apparently pays groups for collecting used shoes. (Haven’t done this yet — still looking into it, but it looks promising.)
- Host a $5 per car carwash.
- During the course of this drive, girls will get public speaking experience by announcing their project to EQ and RS. I also plan to have them learn about another woman or two who have done important things for girls worldwide.
The following units are still pretty hazy, but here are some vague ideas
3. Being kind to the Earth Unit
- learn about Julia Mavimbela, a South African Mormon peace activist who promoted gardening projects with youths in the wake of riots and oppression under Apartheid. (See the Illuminated Ladies coloring book for a one page biography and a beautiful coloring page.) Brainstorm what we can do to help the earth and the environment
- beach cleanup
- girls organize a ward clothing/goods swap, in which people bring all the stuff they would normally give to Goodwill to the church one Saturday. People then take whatever they want, thus helping to keep items out of our landfills. Unwanted items go to DI or Goodwill.
- Girls learn about and discuss Wangari Maathai and do some kind of artsy/crafty project promoting being good to the earth
- volunteer with local organization that pots plants and trees
4. Feeding the Hungry Unit
- learn about hunger in our local community. Learn about women who have done great work to bring attention to/solve the problem of hunger. Brainstorm ways we can help.
- through the local food bank, glean a field. Harvested crops are used by the food bank to feed the hungry
- volunteer at a soup kitchen
- make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and donate them to an organization that works with the homeless
- volunteer to pack food boxes for the elderly at the local foodbank
- sponsor a food drive in the ward, donate to foodbank
5. Athletics and Fitness Unit
- learn about some important female athletes who paved the way for girls behind them. The Katherine Switzer story is great. Plan out a series of athletic/fitness opportunities for the girls
- capture the flag
- learn about planning balanced meals — cook a balanced meal together
- learn about a few more female athletes and what they’ve accomplished
6. The Written Word Unit
- learn about great women writers and poets
- girls write their own poetry using writing prompts or other guides
- girls artistically render their favorite lines from the poems they’ve written, drawing and coloring images that represent their poetry
- design, build, and paint a Little Free Library
- volunteer at a local library for a couple of hours
- hold a book drive, donating books to shelters
- book group, where girls bring a book they love and talk about it briefly. Follow this with making artsy bookmarks
This is my vision for the next year or so of Activity Days. What are your best ideas? What would you like to see the girls in your ward get involved in? Please feel free to share.