The Interfaith Youth Day of Service is an annual event held in the Twin Cities on Presidents Day; this year the event was held at Augsburg College. It’s an opportunity for 7th-12th graders to come together from all different religious and cultural backgrounds to learn about different traditions, and deepen their connection with their own faith. The event aims at building bridges between faiths. Over 100 youth from various parts of the metro area came together for this event.
In the morning, the students attended two workshops on different faiths, and heard from Keynote Speaker Brother Ali, who is a world renowned Hip Hop artist, speaker, and activist from Minneapolis; he also spoke at this year’s Nobel Peace Prize Forum. During his speech at the Interfaith Youth Day of Service, Brother Ali spoke to the students about the importance of accepting people from all faiths. The students all were very moved by his speech, and were surprised to learn how connected he was with faith.
In the afternoon, the students were involved in various service projects throughout the Twin Cities. Many of the youth were transported to different service sites, but Habitat went to Augsburg to do our project. Last year, the Interfaith Youth Day of Service partnered with us to do a service project at the ReStore, and this year the students participated in an upcoming fundraiser hosted by Youth United. The youth built popsicle stick houses which will be displayed at our ReStore in New Brighton. These houses will be on display for people to vote on their favorites starting in March. The youth and supervisors worked together to build 3 houses. The majority of youth did not know each other before the service project, but by the end it seemed like they had become new friends.
Habitat also facilitated a discussion with the group about the need for affordable housing and the affects inadequate housing has on families. Before our discussion the students had not thought about the ways housing can affect different aspects of a family’s life including their health, education, and transportation. The Interfaith Youth Day of Service was a great way to reach out to students who didn’t know about Habitat and educate them on the need for affordable housing in the Twin Cities. It was nice to see such a diverse group of students get together to have these important discussions, and work together on the fun building project.
The event is hosted by the Interfaith Youth Leadership Coalition which is a group of high school and college students who aim to nurture interfaith understanding, reduce prejudice, and work together through service and justice to transform the world. The nature of the day was breaking down barriers, much like Habitat’s work in the community.