Celebrating Accomplishments This Season.

When I was a child I wasn’t the most well behaved. I had many visits to the principal’s office, had numerous detentions, I was separated from other students and so on. I even had a special seat in class assigned for the specific purpose of decreasing the distraction I caused for others. I was kicked out of Beavers, and removed from the bus. You get the idea. I believed I wasn’t good. But, I had a teacher who believed I was. My personal belief was confirmed on several occasions when I was being “spoken too”, But one time time was different. My teacher said, “I believe you are capable of better.” I didn’t believe in myself but my teacher believed in me, I thought, maybe I can be better. Later that year at a school awards ceremony they were announcing the most improved student award – to my great surprise my name was called. I was shocked, surprised, and overjoyed – my teacher believed in me, it changed how I saw myself, and it had an impact on my life. This moment and those words were cemented into my consciousness through that awards ceremony.

Do you remember receiving an award as a child that had a lasting impact?

Looking back now, the award I received that day didn’t have any inherent value, it was a piece of paper with my name on it, but the paper meant I was recognized, that I mattered, that I could succeed. I believe that piece of paper and that ceremony impacted my sense of identity. It was surprising, exciting, and encouraging.

Celebrating kids is one way that we cement our belief in them, into their young minds. At Awana we acknowledge accomplishments through Awards. The important thing is that children are recognized, encouraged, shown that they are seen, known, appreciated, valued, and loved. These seemingly insignificant moments to us can be life altering and identity forming moments in the life of a child. If we are going to celebrate the accomplishments of the Awana kids this year we are going to have to be creative and think outside of the box. Here are a few suggestions to get you thinking.

Defer your award celebration.

Physical distancing requirements make a traditional award ceremony impossible right now, but planning it for later, and sharing some of your plans with kids and families now, can create a sense of hope for things to come. You might even consider sending invitations in the mail to build excitement. In the meantime, encourage kids to continue working on their handbooks at home and provide the incentive of an Awards celebration once the regulations have been lifted. As we know this may not happen for a few months, but planning ahead might help build some excitement. Planning a party or a BBQ celebration for later in the summer or even early fall would go a long way with kids who have worked hard to memorize those verses. You could even plan this as part of your opening night in the fall. Whatever you do this solution provides a future hope and incentive that they will be recognized and celebrated for their work in person at a later date.

Consider a virtual awards celebration.

Many ministries are successfully utilizing online venues and technology to provide virtual community experiences for kids. These same technologies could be used to celebrate the accomplishments of your kids this year. A live ceremony would be fun but a pre-recorded ceremony that you send to each family would work as well. Consider including personalized messages from appropriate leaders.

Celebrate each child through the mail.

Consider sending each child/family a letter in the mail with a personal note from their leader, a certificate of achievement or if you have already received your order of awards consider doorstep delivery. Include personalized notes ensuring that each child feels recognized.

Whether you choose one of these approaches or something different, ask yourself these questions…

  1. Have I recognized the specific accomplishments each child and celebrated their specific achievements?
  2. Have I acknowledged each individual child for their participation?
  3. Have I shared the Gospel?
  4. Have I provided a next step for continued engagement?
  5. Am I demonstrating enthusiasm and excitement in my approach?

May God bless you as you finish the year strong, through circumstances we never would have imagined, may we make the most of every opportunity, and celebrate each child. May you recognized opportunities to make a lasting impact in their lives for eternity.

We would love to hear your creative ideas for celebration and recognition this season. Please share with us.

Author: Cory Vail