Programs for Children & Youth
Come learn about Albany UU’s Programs for Children and Youth (PCY). These provide dynamic weekly learning experiences for children and youth. Children of every age, race, faith, ethnicity, gender, and background are warmly welcomed for who they genuinely are, as are their families.
PCY also offers guidance and support for families who want to explore and develop their spiritual identity and practices either at church or at home. Program elements include weekly Wisdom Stories in service followed by meetings of age-based small groups, monthly Family Chapel, occasional multi-generational services, and events like our annual September gathering in Washington Park. There is also a monthly Soulful Home packet available in paper or digital format to support grownups trying to incorporate UU values in their children’s daily lives.
PCY is grounded by Albany UU’s Principles and Sources, and supported by four staff members. Members of the congregation volunteer for the Council for Children & Youth Programs, as well as to be on the guide teams trained to facilitate Sunday morning groups and to help out in the Nursery/Toddler room.
Sunday Morning Age-Based Classes
Classes begin the third Sunday in September and run through May. Most children and youth start out in the main Sunday morning service at 10:00 am so they can be part of this important ritual and hear the the Wisdom Story before heading to their classrooms. You then accompany your younger children to their classroom(s), and can return to the Sunday service. You are responsible for your child (or children) once the service and their classes end around 11:15. You must pick up younger children (up to grade 5) from their classroom(s) at that time. Older ones will be released on their own to find their grownups –you may want to discuss and select a meeting place. Channing Hall, where Coffee Hour takes place right after the service, is a good spot to meet — everyone is welcome to enjoy refreshments and conversation.
Infants and Children Under Three. Families with infants and children younger than three have several options during Sunday service. We want you to feel comfortable with your little ones here at Albany UU, and realize that can mean different things for different families:
- Bring your child(ren) to the Nursery/Toddler Room for care by Albany UU staff and volunteers. Parents and caregivers are welcome to stay with their children if they wish, and to use the room for feeding and diapering as needed. This room is usually open throughout the summer.
- Use the soundproof seating space upstairs over Community Hall in outside of the balcony and Joy Library. There is a window and speaker here overlooking Community Hall so you can see and hear the service. The area is equipped with a baby swing, rocking chair, and some books and toys.
- You are also welcome to keep your children with you in service. Ushers may be able to provide fidget objects or quiet activities for children to engage with during service.
A Typical Morning Session. Sunday morning classes usually involve a gentle group learning experience, beginning with chalice lighting and group check-in, followed by conversation and activities related to the theme of the month and the Wisdom Story heard that day. Activities are designed to engage a range of learning styles. Visitors are quite welcome, parents/guardians will be asked to sign newcomers in with a contact number and to provide any allergy or other health information volunteer group leaders might need to know.
- Soul Matters, a program designed for elementary school aged children to engage with Unitarian Universalist principles, and connect with Albany UU’s theme of the month. Family Chapel is held in the Sanctuary the 1st Sunday of October-December, and February-May, to introduce the theme of the month, which is explored more fully via subsequent group sessions. Themes are also reflected in the weekly Sunday morning service in Community Hall, and take-home packets called Soulful Home are available to support family engagement with the concepts.
- Crossing Paths, an opportunity for middle-school aged youngsters to learn about Unitarian Universalism and other world faith traditions. This course encourages respectful wonder about, and interest in, the faiths being studied; honors the experiences of people familiar with those faiths, and features visits to their sacred spaces and services. A parent/guardian orientation will take place at the beginning of this experience so adults have understand class content and expectations.
- Our Whole Lives (OWL), is a highly regarded age-appropriate human sexuality course developed and provided to congregations by Unitarian Universalist Association. Specially-trained facilitators support each young person’s ability to make responsible, respectful, fact-based decisions about their bodies, behavior, and relationships. Three opportunities for OWL are typically presented, with content customized for the age groups: Kindergarten/1st Grade, 4th/5th or 5th/6th Grade, and 7th/8th or 8th/9th Grade. Due to the course’s sensitive nature, all OWL groups are preceded by Orientation Sessions for parents/guardians and require specific informed consent, and therefore are not open to visitors.
- Coming of Age (COA) is a foundational Albany UU experience, formerly known to some as “Rite of Passage.” This program gives youth an opportunity to explore their own beliefs and values and the transition from childhood to young adulthood. Teens prepare expressions of their findings, called “credos,” which they offer to the congregation in the late spring. Credo expressions can take a variety of formats, and are sometimes presented in a special COA service or as part of the annual Youth Group Service.
- Youth Group’s weekly sessions provide connection and community in a supportive space! Open to all high-school aged youth, Youth Group members sometimes perform in Sunday service, and also plan and present one service each spring, usually on the third Sunday of May. Occasional outings to UU gatherings called “cons” (youth conventions) or activities such as hiking, Movie Nights, or Dungeons and Dragons games are also part of the fun. Our Lead Youth Advisor guides the group with additional help from volunteers.
Contact for More Information
For more information, or details about current offerings, please contact Director of Children & Youth Programs Elizabeth Baldes.