Junior Youth Groups
While global trends project an image of this age group as problematic, lost in the throes of tumultuous physical and emotional change, unresponsive and self-consumed, the Bahá’í community—in the language it employs and the approaches it adopts—is moving decidedly in the opposite direction, seeing in junior youth instead altruism, an acute sense of justice, eagerness to learn about the universe and a desire to contribute to the construction of a better world.
The Junior Youth Spiritual Empowerment Program is a global Baha’i-inspired program with the aim to assist junior youth (ages 11-15) to take ownership for their spiritual and intellectual development, to develop a strong sense of purpose and the self-confidence needed to make good decisions, and to engage in meaningful social action in their communities. The materials and the animators assist junior youth to navigate through a crucial stage (between childhood and young adults) of their lives and to become builders of unity and champions of justice in their own neighborhoods and communities.
Today there are junior youth groups in every part of the world, who meet in various places (homes, schools, under trees, centers). The program was developed and is administered by the Baha’i Faith but is designed to work with youth of all faiths. Although spiritual in nature it encourages diverse views and never seeks to “convert” or push a religion on the youth.
How does the program help youth?
Junior Youth are growing in capacity and have many decisions to make in the upcoming years. The program helps them navigate this important period.
At an age when burgeoning intellectual, spiritual and physical powers become accessible to them, they are being given the tools needed to combat the forces that would rob them of their true identity as noble beings and to work for the common good.
What do the junior youth do?
With the help of the “animator” the youth go through a series of work books that deal with themes related to developing a spiritual life dedicated to service.
The work books cover themes such as: choosing your path in life, importance of service and making an effort, vocabulary and language development, you always have a choice about how to react to adversity, power of speech, understanding math concepts, justice, time-management and responsible business, listening to your inner voice, inner sight, spiritual perception, power of speech, creativity, looking at music and media realistically, purity, what is real love, living a chaste & holy life, freedom from prejudice, positive friendships and much more.
An important part of the program is the carrying out of service projects along with other activities including:
- Arts & drama
- Sports & games
- Discussion & study
- Depending on the group, it can also public speaking, video & media creation, trips, retreats, cooking, dance, and involvement with other service organizations.
What is an “animator”?
An animator is a trained older youth or adult that guides the group and becomes a friend, counselor, and supporter of the junior youth as they go through the program. The animator does not play the role of a teacher, disciplinarian, or parent. Instead they “animate” the group to become independent and take on more and more responsibility for their own learning. Often animators are youth who have completed the junior youth program and want to use their time to help guide those younger than themselves. Young adults 17 and over who are interested in becoming animators are welcome to join the program by contacting us.