Achievement Days: the gospel in action

Dear Mom and Dad

I just wanted you to know how much I appreciated all you do for me. Dad, I like it when we go camping and build campfires. I am glad that you have taught me how. Mom, I like it when you take me shopping. I remember when we got my shoes for school. I had fun picking them out. I really like it when you read to me at night. Thanks a bunch.Merry Christmas, Courtney

This heartwarming message to the parents of a then 11-year-old Primary girl in Great Falls, Mont., was the result of Primary Achievement Days - during which 8- to 11-year-old LDS girls put gospel principles into action.

Achievement Days, said members of the Primary general presidency, was designed to give girls the opportunity to apply gospel values in their lives through goal-setting and twice-monthly activities. Boys the same age are involved in Cub Scouting. In areas of the world where Scouting is not available, boys officially participate in Achievement Days.

"The purpose of Primary is to teach children the gospel of Jesus Christ and help them learn to live it," said Patricia P. Pinegar, Primary general president. "Children need to see how the gospel is a part of their lives. They need to experience and practice the gospel principles that they talk about on Sundays. Achievement Days are settings where this can happen."

The Church News recently discussed Achievement Days and the My Achievement Days booklet with Pres. Pinegar and her counselors, Anne G. Wirthlin and Susan L. Warner.

The booklet, which each child receives upon turning 8, suggests topics, including "Personal Preparedness" and "Spirituality," upon which leaders base Achievement Days activities. Under each topic, ideas for activities are suggested to the leaders, such as having a scripture story-telling festival or visiting a temple visitors center.

The booklet explains that Achievement Days helps young people do the following:

Develop a testimony.

Live gospel principles.

Grow close to family.

Learn new skills.

Make friends.

Learn how to set and complete goals.

Under each topic, space in the booklet is provided for the child to write her feelings and experiences after an Achievement Days activity. On the back of the booklet "My Gospel Standards" are listed for easy reference.

"We hope that leaders will be sensitive to the needs of their individual children and plan Achievement Days to best meet those needs," Pres. Pinegar said. "Listen to the children and talk to their parents. Always include the children in the planning of these activities. Help them learn how to set goals, to make choices and then be part of implementing those choices."

Speaking of the benefits of Achievement Days, Sister Wirthlin explained that this portion of Primary helps children turn to the Savior in their personal lives. It is an opportunity for them to "learn to work together with a leader who has a testimony and exemplifies gospel values in her life," she said. "They can learn to value each other and serve one another."

Sister Warner added that Achievement Days can not only help strengthen already active young members of the Church, but also fellowship those from less-active homes. "Some children aren't able to come on Sundays," she said. "They don't have parents who bring them, but somehow they get to these Achievement Days. It's a wonderul opportunity for children to bring their non-member friends."

Speaking of the importance of family, the Primary general presidency counseled leaders to involve parents in what their children are learning in Primary, including Achievement Days. Pres. Pinegar noted, "Achievement Days are times when children can have good experiences that will strengthen their desire to make righteous choices and become the kind of person Heavenly Father wants them to become."

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