“Sea of Dreams” by Angie and Sam at Crafty Tuesdays blog.

Milwaukee Muslim Women’s Coalition launches youth nights this Sunday with programs that connect local teens to young people around the world. 

In collaboration with KidSpirit, a nonprofit online magazine and international community, Youth Night participants will reflect on some of life’s big questions, use their answers to create art and share their art with teens from different parts of the world. KidSpirit connects 250,000 readers from 190 countries on its global platform, its website states.

The theme for Sunday’s program is “dreams and desires.” Participants will reflect on this theme and a relevant verse from the Qur’an, join in small group discussions, then individually create collages inspired by their reflections and discussions. They will vote on the “most meaningful” collage to send to KidSpirit for publication.

“I want to open their eyes to what’s going on beyond Milwaukee,” said MMWC Youth Development Director Rawand Yazaw in an interview Monday with Wisconsin Muslim Journal. “They will be sharing their art with youth from different parts of the world and get perspectives from other parts of the world. 

“What do dreams and desires look like for someone living in the Middle East or eastern Asia? It is a great opportunity for them to open their eyes to what’s happening beyond Milwaukee.”

MMWC’s first Youth Night will take place from 4 – 6 p.m., Sunday, at the Islamic Resource Center, 5235 S. 27th St., Greenfield. Youth ages 12 – 16 are invited to attend. Register at this link.

A unique outcome

MMWC Youth Nights complement rather than duplicate other activities for Greater Milwaukee’s Muslim youth, Yazaw said. “It’s different from school clubs or other youth organizations. Those programs are valuable and important, and Youth Nights add a different layer. 

“In addition to self-reflection and interaction with (Milwaukee’s) diverse Muslim community, MMWC Youth Nights support their development as global citizens,” she said. “It promotes mutual understanding with youth around the world. They add a global perspective.

MMWC’s youth development director Rawand Yazaw

Through participating with KidSpirit, Youth Night participants also begin to build a global, virtual network, Yazaw explained. KidSpirit is associated with the United Nations through both the Department of Global Communications and the Economic and Social Council.

While Greater Milwaukee’s Muslim community is very diverse, “I feel like we are trapped here,” she added. “It’s time to start thinking about what’s going on beyond our borders.”

KidSpirit was created “by and for youth to engage each other about life’s questions in an open and inclusive spirit” and “support their development into world citizens with strong inner grounding,” its website states. Its international youth network of editors from around the world edit submissions collaboratively, decide on the magazine’s quarterly themes, set the editorial agenda, and discuss ethical, philosophical, and spiritual topics. 

Youth of all different religions and backgrounds participate with KidSpirit, Yazaw noted. “It’s a great magazine. I am really impressed by the work they do because they give youth agency. If you want to have a sustainable impact on youth, you should let them lead and pursue what they want to learn.”

Sunday’s Youth Night agenda

“Dreams and Desires” is KidSpirit’s quarterly theme this winter. The platform asks youth from 190 countries to reflect on the following questions:

  • How does our subconscious impact our reality?
  • Do our dreams and aspirations define us? 
  • How can we manifest our desires?

“It’s the beginning of 2023, maybe a time to start new dreams, to open one’s mind to what’s coming,” Yazaw said.  Youth Night participants will reflect on the theme and a verse from the Qur’an, and each participant express it through a collage they create from magazine photos, clips of fabric and other materials they select and paste on foam boards. MMWC will provide all the supplies.

Yazaw contacted KidSpirit and arranged to have one of the collages, selected by Youth Night participants, published in an upcoming issue.

She also reached out to Afghan and Rohingya youth who have relocated in Milwaukee to invite them to participate. “We will try to make the event as diverse as possible,” she said. Non-Muslim youth are also welcomed, she said.

Islamic component

Youth of all faiths and backgrounds are welcomed to participate in MMWC’s Youth Nights. However, there is an Islamic component, Yazaw explained. Participants will be asked to discuss a verse from the Qur’an and relate it to the theme “Dreams and Desires.”

The verse highlights hope in Islam, she said. Do not lose heart or despair— if you are true believers you have the upper hand-” [Quran 3:139]. 

MMWC is developing plans for future Youth Nights, Yazaw said. “We want to make this an on-going activity.”