What is the Junior Youth programme?
The Junior Youth Spiritual Empowerment Programme is aimed at preteens and young teens. This is a crucial period of change for them and a time when their sense of justice and desire to change the world is strong. This programme works with these young people in groups and aims to help them establish an identity, work collaboratively to foster a positive peer group, and develop a social conscience.
The programme is divided into three main areas: study, recreation and service.
Study consists of reading through a series of workbooks that present moral issues through stories. The discussion questions enhance the participants’ moral and spiritual perception.
Recreation consists of group-led activities that may range from sport and games to arts and crafts as decided by the participants.
Service consists of a range of projects where the junior youth identify issues facing their community and work towards solving them. The objectives and scope of the projects are decided and acted upon by the group. Examples of service projects are Railway Trail and beach clean-ups, or helping an elderly neighbour with gardening.
Is this programme religious?
No, it is not a religious education programme. However, the material is Baha’i-inspired and the books do mention God and include prayers.
The participants do not need to be from a Bahá’í family and there is no expectation that they become Bahá’í after being in the programme. Many members from other religious and non-religious backgrounds find that the programme complements their beliefs.
Junior youth and their families are encouraged to preview the books that will be studied in the group.
Who runs the programme?
The programme is run by volunteers known as ‘animators’ who undergo training to work with junior youth. Animators can be as young as 15 (usually graduates of the programme), but many are adults, from university students to professionals to homemakers. The animators’ job is to facilitate the youth to undertake the service activities using their own motivation and initiative.
How often do the groups meet?
This is up to each group and largely on the availability and desire of the participants. Most groups meet at least once a week for 1-3 hours but others might meet several times a week and increase the time during school breaks.
Are there any costs involved?
It is free to attend junior youth groups. There may be incidental expenses with regard to social activities (going to the movies, for example) but in the interests of keeping the activities accessible to families of all incomes, these are kept to a minimum.