“300,000 Young Women Send Balloon Messages of Hope Worldwide,” Ensign, Nov. 1986, 102
At sunrise on October 11, some three hundred thousand LDS young women gathered at assembly points in ninety-five countries to release helium-filled balloons. Each balloon carried a personalized message of hope, peace, and love.
“The messages these girls sent up in their balloons were indicative of a rising generation of young people who are concerned about a world where love of fellow man and woman is at times hard to find,” said Ardeth G. Kapp, general president of the Young Women.
Each twelve- to seventeen-year-old girl decided on her own what to state in her message. The girls were advised to make their messages a personal wish for the world. Many participants wrote about the love of God, hope, peace, kindness, faith in Jesus Christ, or thankfulness. Each girl identified herself as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and included her name and age. Some also included the address of her meetinghouse and an invitation for whoever finds the message to write back.
Once the messages were attached, the balloons were released. The balloons were expected to be airborne for from twenty-four to thirty-six hours, and travel up to three thousand miles, depending on weather.
The launchings took place in thousands of communities around the world, with many launching sites near famous local landmarks. In the United States, these landmarks included the Hill Cumorah in upstate New York, the St. Louis Arch in Missouri, and the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas. Some twenty-seven hundred young women gathered in Santa Ana, California, and there were other launchings with large crowds in attendance. In some parts of the world, LDS Young Women varied the launching routine. Daughters of American member families in Cairo, Egypt, placed their messages in bottles and launched them into the Red Sea. A group of nineteen girls living on Mauritius Island in the Indian Ocean also used bottles to carry their messages.
In the South Pacific, young women in Nuku’alofa, Tongatapu, Tonga, lofted their messages in balloons but also sent duplicate messages to Salt Lake City to be included in balloons launched from various areas in the United States. The reason? They stated they “wanted to make sure someone besides the fish” would read their messages.
The theme for the event was “The Rising Generation,” taken from the words of President Ezra Taft Benson: “We say to you, ‘Arise and shine forth,’ and be a light unto the world, a standard to others. You can live in the world and not partake of the sins of the world. You can live life joyously, beautifully. … ‘Look to this day, arise in all your splendor, and bear the standards of a world-to-be.’” (Ensign, Nov. 1977, p. 32.)
“We wanted our young women all around the world to feel the strength that comes from being united in a good cause,” Sister Kapp said of the project, which was known as the Young Women Worldwide Celebration. “These young women have committed to values in their lives that let them know they are of great worth and that they have great potential. Sending the messages gives our young women a chance to express their willingness to work to improve the world.
“We wanted them to realize that they can be a powerful influence on the world.”