The Mormons have a program for teenage girls called Personal Progress. It allows girls to set and carry out challenging goals in several areas of personal development. In some parts of the program, they choose their own goals. In others, they carry out goals set for them. Both help them learn to spend their time in meaningful ways, learn self-discipline, and develop the habit of always progressing.
Each section of the program is defined by a value the church would like the girls to develop in their own lives. Currently, the values are: Faith, Divine Nature, Individual, Worth, Knowledge, Choice and Accountability, Good Works and, Integrity. Recently, virtue was also added as a value.
The motto for this program is “Stand for truth and righteousness.” The logo is a lit torch, representing the light of Christ. The girls are encouraged to remember, through this logo, to keep the commandments of God, thus holding up the light of Jesus Christ; the chief cornerstone of Mormonism.
The girls participate in the program between the ages of twelve and eighteen. During the program, they complete six value experiences and one value project for each of the values. They are also required to keep a journal, maintain high moral standards, and put their testimony in writing.
Experiences are smaller activities the girls choose from to help them improve their ability to follow the Savior. Following are some examples of experiences the girls can choose from:
- Girls can plant, grow, and harvest a vegetable garden. As the do so, they’re to focus on the teaching that faith is like a seed. They are to study how this is so as they work in their garden.
- Girls can choose to spend two weeks strengthening their relationship with a family member, including refraining from criticism.
- Girls can record their goals for their life, and then make a plan to help them reach those goals.
- Girls can perform a three hour service project that benefits people outside their own home.
In addition to the experiences, girls also plan a series of more complex projects. They do one project for each value and each project must require ten hours or more to complete. This means that over the course of their teen years, they will devote eighty hours to these projects. Project possibilities include:
- 1. Receive training in first aid or other emergency response skills.
- 2. Plan a dance or activity that includes dance training and wholesome music, atmosphere, and lighting.
- 3. Learn how to be admitted to college and how to pay for it. Apply at the appropriate time.
- 4. Learn a homemaking skill and then teach it to someone else.
Girls work with their youth leaders and parents in planning and carrying out the program. They’re expected to follow appropriate patterns of planning so they emerge from the program ready for adulthood and its responsibilities. If they finish the program early, they can continue to work on additional projects. They can also offer to help another girl with her program, which again teaches leadership and service.
Because the Mormons have a lay church, everyone serves. By beginning to train our young women to serve others, to lead, and to be independent and self-reliant, we prepare them for all the demands of adult life, marriage, parenthood, church leadership, and community service, as well as careers.
Terrie Lynn Bittner
The late Terrie Lynn Bittner—beloved wife, mother, grandmother, and friend—was the author of two homeschooling books and numerous articles, including several that appeared in Latter-day Saint magazines. She became a member of the Church at the age of 17 and began sharing her faith online in 1992.