Rachel Pixton is only one of thousands of young women across the world who are participating in Personal Progress as a part of the Young Women’s program in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Personal Progress is a program for young women to strengthen their faith and testimony in Jesus Christ. Sister Debbie Roderick, the Woodbridge Stake Young Women’s President, explained, “It is a program designed to help each young woman personally grow closer to our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and by participating in the program, the young women are developing the habit of setting and achieving important goals and they are building a foundation of faith that will help them throughout their lives.”
The Personal Progress program uses the eight Young Women values to help young women “understand more fully who (they) are, why (they) are here on the earth, and what (they) should be doing as a daughter of God to prepare for the day (they) go to the temple to make sacred covenants.” Our local young women, here in the Woodbridge Stake, are using the Personal Progress program to make commitments, carry them out, and report their progress.
Rachel, who attends the Lakeridge 1st Ward, described her journey through the Personal Progress program, saying, “I loved to have something to work on! The projects kept me busy and the experiences gave me something to think about.”
Rachel worked on six value experiences and a ten-hour value project for each of the first seven values. For the value of Virtue, she completed four required experiences and the required project of reading the Book of Mormon.
“I enjoyed the one experience where we had to live the standards of the For the Strength of Youth for a month. It caused me to really think about what I should be doing every day,” Rachel shared. “I learned what I should and should not be doing each day and how to center Christ in my life.”
Rachel’s value project for Faith included making a scripture bag and cross-stitching the Young Women’s symbol to put on the bag. For Divine Nature she learned how to do digital scrapbooking and made a scrapbook of her summer vacation. For Individual Worth she helped with a basketball camp. For Knowledge she improved her typing. For Choice and Accountability she painted the walls and furniture in her room. For Good Works she made a cookbook compiling about 400 recipes. For Integrity she made a modest dress that she could wear inside of the temple. For Virtue she read the Book of Mormon.
Rachel said that her favorite project was making the dress. She said, “I had made skirts before, but making a dress was new and fun.” Along with all of the skills she learned while doing her experiences and projects, Rachel said, “I also learned a lot about patience.”
Sister Roderick explained that the Young Womanhood Recognition is the award given to young women after they have completed their Personal Progress during their years in the Young Women program. She said, “To receive the award, they must attend sacrament meeting regularly, live the standards in For the Strength of Youth, complete the value experiences and value project for each of the eight YW values, keep a personal journal, attend seminary or participate in independent study, read the Book of Mormon regularly and record their testimony of the Savior Jesus Christ.”
There is a lot of work involved in the Personal Progress program. The young women complete value experiences and a 10 plus hour value project in each of the Young Women values, which are faith, divine nature, individual worth, knowledge, choice and accountability, good works, integrity, and virtue. Sister Roderick praises the efforts of the young women. “The young women who earn the Young Womanhood Recognition have worked hard to do so…it isn’t an easy award to earn. Achieving this award shows each of the young women who do so that they are capable of doing hard things. They deserve our respect!”
Rachel gave this advice to other Young Women working on Personal Progress: “Don’t quit; the overall experience is so amazing and the feeling of accomplishment is something that nothing else can beat.”
On April 12, 2015 Rachel received the Young Womanhood Recognition. Sister Roderick said, “Due to the significant nature of the award, President Hilton or another member of the Stake Presidency, and I attend the recipient’s Sacrament Meeting and present her with the award.” Rachel was only 13 years old when she received the award.
Once receiving this award Rachel can continue working on what is called the Honor Bee. To earn this award she will reread the Book of Mormon and do forty hours of service. She is already working on this and has more than half of her service hours completed.
Many of the young women in our stake have earned the Young Womanhood Recognition and many more are working hard to earn it. Sister Roderick gives important counsel to these young women trying to earn the award. “Because earning this award has so much potential to increase faith and prepare the young women to make temple covenants, I strongly encourage each of the young women in our stake to work on their personal progress a little each week and to plan to complete the program. It will provide the firm foundation each of them will need to remain faithful as they deal with the challenges and trials of this life.”
By Camille Kerr
Writing Specialist on the Woodbridge, Virginia Stake Public Affairs Council for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints