“We want to know how the children and youth program is going,” said President Dallin H. Oaks of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
President Oaks and his wife, Sister Kristen M. Oaks, hosted a Face to Face worldwide broadcast for the youth that originated on Temple Square in Salt Lake City on Sunday, February 23, 2020. They were joined by Latter-day Saint youth and families for the event.
The new initiative replaced the Church’s existing children and youth programs on January 1, 2020.
“This program is designed to help you become more like the Savior in four areas: spiritual, social, physical and intellectual,” said President Oaks.
“We know that you can do this, and that is what our message is today,” explained Sister Oaks. “You can do it individually, you can do it with your family and you can do it with your friends at church.”
“My advice to all of you would be just put your whole heart into it,” said Ashley, one of the youth who participated in the broadcast. “If you feel like you can’t see the end result, or if you don’t know why you’re being prompted to do it, just do it because Heavenly Father has a plan for you and He will take you where you need to go.”
Under the new program, children and young men and women are encouraged to develop new talents, interests and skills. The new program also includes activities for families.
“I think that the new goal‑setting program with our families is very important because we can help each other with our goals, and it builds a better relationship with the family and causes more happiness and less contention,” said J.J.
“It’s fun for the kids to write down a goal, work on the goal, accomplish it and have everyone cheer for them, and put that goal in a bag that we can, at the end of the year, remember what they did and how far they’ve come,” said parent Stephanie Larsen.
“I like this program a little bit more than the other programs because it forces me as a parent to participate a lot more,” added Dustin Larsen. “It not only encourages me to be a better person, but also to be involved in their lives. That’s really important for me because sometimes dads need a little extra push, too.”
“I think being a great example is one of the most important things that leaders [and] teachers can do,” said President Oaks.
“Goals are different in different times of our life,” said the senior leader, who shared a story of his youth. As a teenager, he worked at a radio repair shop, where he learned skills that would eventually help him support his family when he got married.
“I don’t know whether young people know about radio,” he quipped. “When I was a young person, there was no television. And the only way we got news or entertainment or music was on the radio.”
“A big part of this program for me has been learning to receive revelation,” said Hannah. “As Joseph Smith said, as you draw yourself closer to God, He’ll draw Himself closer to you, and that has really helped me.”
“I can look at a situation and see how God played a role in that, and that He didn’t leave,” said Sarah. “He was always there, and He helped me, even though I didn’t feel like it at some points.”
“At the beginning of this year, I set a spiritual goal to visit the temple every week in the morning before school,” said Luke. “And as I went to the temple and prayed and read my scriptures, I was later inspired to set a new spiritual goal, and that was to get my patriarchal blessing.”
“You’re all so unique, and you have different capabilities and talents,” Sister Oaks told the youth. “And each one of you is going to build the kingdom of God in a different way.”
“You can do this, and God will help you,” said President Oaks. “He wants you to succeed. Your leaders [and] your parents want you to succeed. But there’s some things that you just have to do on your own. And setting goals and accumulating the desire to do what the Lord wants you to do is something that only you can do.”
The youth use guidebooks to help them plan and accomplish their goals. In addition, the new Gospel Living app is now available in 16 languages for youth to journal, track their progress and access uplifting music, videos, memes and inspirational messages.
The Church now offers a youth-focused Instagram account at StrivetoBe and encourages youth to share their experiences on social media using #StrivetoBe.
Aleah is a graduate of Southern Virginia University, where she studied English, Creative Writing, and Dance. She now works full time as a marketing and product manager, writer, and editor. Aleah served a mission in California and loves baking, Lang Leav poetry, Gaynor Minden pointe shoes, and Bollywood movies.