International Day of Children and Youth 2023

Join us to celebrate the presence, power and promise of children and youth within The Salvation Army!

Every year The Salvation Army celebrates the International Day of Children and Youth on the last Sunday of April. In 2023 this is Sunday 30 April. 

The day is not just an opportunity to pray for children and young people, but also to create space for them to participate in every aspect of our mission. It is about giving them a voice and a stage. 

We believe that, although children are developing, they are, at the same time, whole and complete human beings. God calls each individual human being into a real relationship and to a real vocation, not a potential vocation somewhere in the future.

This means we see children and young people as full, active members of the Body of Christ, equally important as anyone else.

Join us to celebrate on Sunday 30 April, or on another Sunday of your choice.
 

Theme for 2023: Footprints

This year's theme encourages us to think about and celebrate our journey, identity and direction.

Our identity

We are all made in the image of God and we are all unique! God created each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does; his work of creating, restoring and reconciling.

How we do that depends on our unique set of characters, talents, gifts and skills. We have a unique footprint!

Our direction

‘Footprints’ helps us to think about our future. What is our direction and how can we find direction for our lives?

The Gospel invites us to follow the footsteps of Jesus. Maybe Matthew 11:29 and 30 express best what it means to follow Jesus:

‘Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.’ (The Message)

We are all invited to live this kind of life with Jesus!

Our journey

We celebrate where we have come from. We celebrate our journey together. We celebrate God’s presence during our journey.

We also acknowledge the challenges we faced and the things and people we might have lost. We find comfort in knowing God was with us every step of the way. And we reflect on our impact on others during our journey; what was our footprint?
 

Materials for all ages

This year the materials are created by the Southern Africa Territory.

A team of youth leaders has created the materials under the supervision of captains Vukani and Sindisiwe Nkosi. They have made a unique set of materials using the taglines ‘In God’, ‘Be you’, ‘Stand out’ and ‘Make your mark’.

We invite you to use these materials as a framework. Feel free to add, adjust and adapt them for your own unique context and culture. 

There are materials for different age groups:

  • Family Devotions can be used for all ages
  • Sunday School materials are for children up to 14 years old
  • Prayer Explosions are for teenagers and young adults

You are welcome to combine different materials, for example the prayers from the devotions and the challenges from the prayer explosion. 

Download the materials

Download all the materials as PDFs and Word files you can edit. The materials are available in English and (from February 2023) in French, Hindi, Portuguese, Spanish, Swahili and Tamil:

Coming soon:

  • Français
  • हिंदी
  • Português
  • Español
  • Kiswahili
  • தமிழ்

If your territory is translating the material into another language, please send us a copy so we can make this available to others. Send your translation by email to youthandchildren@salvationarmy.org.
 

How to use the materials

Outreach ideas

We believe our children and youth should be fully engaged in the mission of the Salvation Army. They are not supposed to stay on the side-lines!

So here are some activities that can help young people in all territories to make their mark, guided by the following scripture, “Beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news.” Romans 10:14

  • Clean up with a group in your community.
  • Conduct an ‘Open-Air-meeting-new-style’ with the theme song, a dance or other art forms. Bring a big canvas with you with paint and markers and ask people to add their handprint and footprint on the canvas. Ask them who had a positive impact on their life and what impact or footprint they want to leave on the life of others.
  • Do a ‘church in the park’ with the theme song and a little devotion and games around footprints. And don’t forget to bring good food with you!
  • Visit 40 Family Wallchart 2020 (40acts.org.uk) for more mission ideas.

Online options

If it is not possible to meet in person, try to find ways to meet online. You could prepare bags with materials for the activities and challenges. Add something nice to eat and a little note and deliver the bags to your children and youth. In an online meeting you could share parts of the message outline and do some activities together.

Be as creative as possible! And share your own ideas on our Facebook page to inspire others: https://www.facebook.com/TSAyouthandchildren

International Creative Arts Competition

Take part in our competition! You are invited to create a video using the theme song lyrics written by the Southern Africa Territory.

Be creative: set the words to music, create a dance routine, paint a picture, make a TikTok video or try your hand at animation. Perhaps you could put together a choir and get a worship band or a brass band to accompany you.

Whatever you create, your video needs to be ready to send to us by 14 April. Full details coming soon. 

We can't wait to watch all your unique versions of the theme song!
 

Footprints logo

Download the Footprints logo in your language:

 

Social media

Download graphics to promote the International Day of Children and Youth on your social channels:

 

Any questions?

If you have any questions, remarks, or ideas, please send an email to youthandchildren@salvationarmy.org.

You can also follow us on Instagram and Facebook.

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