More than 100 East Texas youth from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recently completed an areawide conference focused on "Loving One Another, Including Yourself.”
The students ranged in age from 12 to 18 and came from Tyler, Van Zandt County, Bullard and surrounding areas, according to a news release about the event.
"The goal was to help our youth develop a greater understanding of themselves and appreciate the strengths of other," said Cathy Freeman, president of the Young Women Organization in the Tyler Texas Stake. "We desired to open their understanding to the importance of being themselves, the way God created them to be, and that it is OK to feel and act differently than their peers."
Dr. Taylor Hartman, a world-renowned psychologist, spoke at the conference. Hartman is most famous as the author of "The People Code" and "The Character Code," and creator of the Color Code Personality Profile.
“We chose to invite him because of his ability to introduce them to the four basis motivators that drive people in their interpersonal relationships, and why they do what they do,” Freeman said. “This understanding would create the ability to be more loving, supportive, and encouraging to others as well as themselves. The youth were only given a tiny introduction to a knowledge that could improve their personal, social and workplace relationships.”
The conference kicked off with a lip-sync battle the first night. Teenagers from the church worked together as a ward team to compete for the annual lip-sync trophy.
“When a group of youth are put together with a specific goal in mind, mountains are moved,” Freeman said. “Being only the second year we have had this challenge, I was impressed with their involvement, attitude to participate, talent they displayed, and support they gave one another.”
On the second day, the youth provided a service for an aging couple that has been a great source of service to them and the community over the years. They were divided up in groups to perform tasks that were becoming a greater challenge for this couple to keep up on their wooded property. They fixed doors that needed painting, cleaned up over growth, marked paths, and hauled wood.
“What would have taken days to accomplish these overwhelming tasks for this couple, was completed in an hour by our youth,” Freeman said. “As the youth strive to follow the example of Jesus Christ, this service project was an opportunity to show love and appreciation to this elderly couple, for all that they have done over the years for others.”
The day also was filled with games, a lot of food, and a dance to cap off the evening.
“I love working with the youth of this area,” Freeman said. “They are bright with a desire to be the best that they can be. They are full of fun and excitement for life. They truly care about others, and they know that they are sons and daughters of God.”