“Primary Achievement Days Successful around the World,” Ensign, June 1995, 78–79
Six months ago local Church leaders were instructed that eight- and nine-year-old Primary children would also be involved in the already-organized achievement days program for ten- and eleven-year-old youngsters. In addition, achievement days booklets were made available so that children could record their activities and completed goals.
“The purpose of achievement days is to provide a happy and secure setting where children ages eight through eleven can be involved with friends and families as they practice certain gospel principles,” explained Patricia P. Pinegar, Primary general president. “We believe their testimonies will be strengthened as parents and leaders help them understand that Heavenly Father loves them, cares about everything they do, and wants them to learn many things.”
Reports from around the Church indicate achievement days activities are successful. “I have seen the girls in my stake become more self-confident,” reported Antje Evans, stake Primary president in the Mannheim Germany Stake. “They are proud that they’re setting goals and reaching them. They are having fun together and strengthening their friendships.”
Those strong ties are important, observes Sister Evans, “because often the girls live far apart from each other. Achievement days activities provide an opportunity for them to get together and share their values and goals.”
Achievement days activities have varied in the Mannheim stake. The children in the Mannheim Ward planned an activity for the elderly members in their ward. Under Primary leadership, the Scouts decorated the building and the girls prepared food. The activity was so successful that service projects have continued to be one of the first choices when the children suggest achievement days possibilities.
One sister was so impressed with the ideas in the achievement days booklet, reported Sister Evans, that she organized the program in her home with her daughter. Mother and daughter set goals with one another and then report back, sometimes working together on the things they want to accomplish.
In the Sydney Australia Greenwich Stake, stake Primary president Lorraine Ormsby also reports wonderful results. “We have one ward, the Baulkham Hills Ward, that spent three months working on an activity,” she said. “The girls filled out a family group sheet, they interviewed their mothers and wrote short life histories for their mothers, they took photographs and took some etiquette lessons. Then they planned an evening meal and invited their parents to the activity, where they presented an album, complete with pictures and histories, to their mothers. It was a marvelous success.”
Other wards have planned sunrise testimony meetings, visited hospitals, learned basic safety and emergency planning, and cooked breakfast for the missionaries, Sister Ormsby said.
Kristy McDonough, achievement days leader in the Westdale First Ward, Los Angeles California Santa Monica Stake, said that one of the best activities her girls had participated in was a surprise anniversary party for her.
“I knew something was up,” she said, “but the girls wouldn’t tell me what. They planned the whole evening, including making a cake and banner and cards. We spent the evening looking at my wedding pictures and talking about the importance of temple marriage and staying close to the Lord so that he could direct them as they entered the dating and courtship years.”
The achievement days activities are geared to help young people “grow close to their families, learn new skills, make friends, and learn how to set and complete goals,” explained Susan L. Warner, second counselor in the Primary general presidency. “Children are encouraged to meet with their Primary class members and leaders for achievement days activities. However, if local circumstances do not permit, activities can be held at home with family members.”
Achievement days activities should be simple and flexible. Children are also encouraged to invite their nonmember friends to the activities as well, providing a natural opportunity for children to share the gospel.
Achievement days booklets list twelve different categories in which children might set goals. Included in each category are possible suggestions as well as a place to list the goal and the progress made.
“We believe that as achievement days are implemented worldwide, children will be strengthened in their ability and in their desire to live righteously,” Sister Pinegar said. “As leaders and parents carefully assess the needs of children and provide opportunities for them to have wonderful learning experiences during achievement days and at home, children will be better prepared to make righteous choices in their lives.”