What is the Junior Youth Spiritual Empowerment Program? Ages 12 – 14 (7:00) Toronto, Canada (Watch this video. You will love it!)
If you are between the ages of 12 and 14 you can ask to join a Junior Youth Program in your community. If there isn’t one already in your area your inquiry is important as it can be the catalyst to get one started. These programs strive to give you a voice in today’s society. It aims to enhance your power of expression, sharpen your spiritual perception which helps you to analyse the constructive and destructive forces of society. There will be an Animator (older youth or adult) to assist the group in this process.
About this video:
It begins after having had the Junior Youth Spiritual Empowerment Program in this neighborhood in Toronto, Canada for six years. After having gone through the junior youth program the older youth are now serving as animators to the younger youth.
“If you were here in the community five years ago there was a lot of violence present in the community. But through the establishment of this program the future generations were guided toward a more positive direction and the service projects that they have done have impacted the community in a positive way and presently you do not see violence in our community.” Esther, an animator, from Toronto, Canada
Junior Youth Empowerment Program – Raleigh/Durham NC | Yasmine’s Story : affluent neighborhood in Denver (6:06) | JYSEP – Jackson, Tennessee (4:48) | Find Baha’is US call 1-800-22-UNITE
What materials are used in this program? Books & Themes Explored: Junior Youth Program
What can I gain from participating?
- A strong sense of purpose
- The understanding that no matter what my life circumstances are I am capable of taking charge of my own spiritual and intellectual growth to move myself forward
- Begin to understand the dynamics of group consultation and how useful it can be for making decisions in my life
- An increased ability to articulate ideas with precision and clarity
- An understanding that service is not only for the benefit of others but for the nurturing of my own happiness, connectedness, and positive mental health
- Through acts of service I can discover my talents and interest which will help guide me to later choose an occupation that not only supports my material needs but is also spiritually uplifting
- Being able to reflect upon my actions within an ethical frame of reference
- The understanding that social justice begins within the heart of each of us and the necessity of making changes in my own behaviors towards others is a crucial step in moving this issue forward in society
- The need to search for truth for myself and not accept things blindly or from hearsay
- Faith that when I put forward sincere efforts to improve myself and to be of service to others spiritual forces are there to assist me
- Confidence that I can make a difference in my community and in the world
Is this a religious program?
The moral concepts that underlie the books are drawn from the teachings of the Baha’i Faith but are incorporated in such a way as to touch on universal themes that are enriching to junior youth from all religious and cultural backgrounds as well as no religious background.
Service Opportunities for Youth:
What is the role of a Junior Youth Animator? Ages 15 or older
Assist – Reinforce – Cultivate – Encourage – Befriend
The presence of the animator helps the members of the junior youth group to remain hopeful and convinced that they can not only protect themselves against the forces of moral decay operating in the society around them but also contribute to its betterment. “God is the helper of those souls whose aim is to serve humanity and whose efforts and endeavours are devoted to the good and betterment of all mankind.” ~ Abdu’l-Baha
Examples: DC Baha’i Community (For Youth Animators role in facilitating the Junior Youth Program begin at minute 8:10) | Diana’s Junior Youth Group (2:32) – When you get involved with this program, you’re doing more than helping others. For Diana, (from El Salvador) becoming a mentor changed her own life too. Serving Youth in Early Adolescence (7:25) | The Navajo Junior Youth & Community Beautification Project (6:17) | JYSEP Apartment Complex, Jackson, Tenn.(8:35) | Empowering Junior Youth – TEDx Talks (16:18) | Find Baha’is US call 1-800-22-UNITE
A Teacher of Spiritual Education Classes for Children :
When we inspire young ones to grow up with pure and kind hearts, the future of humanity will be bright. Deep inside, our hearts yearn to become what God has created us for: to be beautiful spiritual beings. And for that purpose, Baha’is, and others who choose to walk this path with us, offer classes open to children of all religious backgrounds. In these classes children will learn to develop spiritual qualities, such as truthfulness, kindness, love and justice. My first counsel is this: Possess a pure, kindly and radiant heart. ~ Baha’u’llah (Tree of Unity)
How can I teach children about being spiritual when I’m just learning about this myself?
There are simple training courses along with lesson plans to assist you in this service. Find Baha’is US call 1-800-22-UNITE
These programs instill in junior youth and youth the sense of a twofold moral purpose:
(1) to take charge of their own intellectual and spiritual growth
(2) to contribute to the transformation of society.
The transformation in the individual and in society are intimately linked. Developing one’s potential and working for the welfare of society cannot be separated, for a person’s moral standards and behavior shape his or her environment and in turn are molded by the structure of society.
In service to the younger generation, animators are given an opportunity both to develop their own skills and capacities as well as to contribute to the development of their communities. (arising2serve)
These programs are a part of a global culture of learning taking place in cities, towns and villages all over the world.
- Fostering a spirit of friendship and intimacy that transcends the barriers of race and class
- Working together for a social order free of prejudice and characterized by unity in diversity
- Learning to walk with others on the spiritual path, in a humble posture of learning, engaging in individual and collective service for the betterment of the world
- Classes for the spiritual education for children in which they develop virtues such as truthfulness, kindness and compassion as well as a deep appreciation for the fundamental unity of the various world religions
- Groups that assist young people to navigate a crucial stage of their lives and to withstand the corrosive forces that especially target them
- Circles of study wherein the participants reflect on the spiritual nature of existence and build capacity for service to the community and society
- Home visits to build strong bonds of friendship, have meaningful conversations or to offer support by praying together
- A program that recognizes the power of communities to unify, heal, and transcend differences
- People working alongside one another in their neighborhoods and villages to begin a process of collective transformation
- A process that seeks to raise capacity within a population to take charge of its own spiritual, social and intellectual development where everyone feels empowered to contribute to the betterment of all.
- A cyclical pattern of reflection, consultation, planning, and action is put on a systematic basis, so that those involved learn from each cycle and are thus constantly improving their plans of action
- Gatherings for collective worship that strengthen the devotional character of the community
NO JUSTICE, NO PEACE
Baha’u’llah, a nineteenth century Spiritual Educator states:
- The well-being of mankind, its peace and security, are unattainable unless and until its unity is firmly established.
- The purpose of justice is the appearance of unity among men…The establishment of order in the world and the tranquillity of the nations depend upon it.
- So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth.
Attire mine head with the crown of justice, and my temple with the ornament of equity. ~ Baha’u’llah
Justice must be considered a fundamental, integral feature of human behavior. Ultimately, the triumph of justice depends on how well the members of the human race can understand and practice the positive character traits and inner spiritual qualities that lie at the heart all the world’s religions. (from We All Want Justice, But What Does It Really Mean? Articles on Justice at BahaiTeachings.org)
Download a poster with 99 virtues – Virtues: The Gift of Character