Children, Young People & Families
Quakers and families
Many Friends participate in Meeting for Worship and in other Quaker activities with their families. These families include people of all ages, parents with children, couples of diverse descriptions – including same-sex couples, Young Friends in their 20s and 30s, older Friends, grandparents with grandkids and single people. For some Quakers, the Meeting is their family. Others have partners or children or parents who are not involved in Quaker activities but who enjoy participating on their own. Some Friends grew up as Quakers; some have been involved for several generations; others are new to Friends.
Aotearoa/New Zealand Friends pay special attention to the involvement of children of all ages and young adults. This takes several forms.
Some Quaker Meetings, including Mt. Eden, Wellington and Christchurch have regular programmes for pre-adolescent children, generally up to about age 10. The children meet with adults and do creative projects focusing on learning about life, spirituality and Quaker practice. In general, our child and youth programmes focus more on process and less on content, often stressing respect, diversity, relationships, curiosity and exploration. Children usually join the full Meeting for Worship for the last 10 minutes or so, and often report on their activities at the Rise (end) of Meeting. Some choose to remain in Meeting for Worship for the full hour instead, and they are welcome to do so.
Junior Young Friends
Junior Young Friends (JYFs) are school years 9-13. They are encouraged to participate in the Meeting as part of their age group, including adult-facilitated Meetings for Worship (such as the “Ten and Ups" at Mt. Eden Meeting), but also have their own annual JYF Camp, and JYF activities at the yearly Summer Gathering. Often strong and important bonds are formed between young people that continue on into adulthood.
This age group spans ages 16-39. Young Friends (YFs) organise activities and gatherings of their own, and also remain active in the overall life of the Meeting. Young Friends have recently helped represent Aotearoa New Zealand in international gatherings, such as the Friends World Conference in Peru (2016) and helped organise actions on Climate Justice, Peace, Equality and Economic Justice. YFs also play an active role in Yearly Meeting and Summer Gathering.
Friends value and encourage the participation of people of all ages, genders and ethnicities. We organise regular social activities for families and enjoy intergenerational activities at Summer Gathering and other Quaker events.