Junior Youth Spiritual Empowerment Program
The Junior Youth Spiritual Empowerment Program is a program aimed at empowering youth aged 11 to 14 to take charge of their spiritual and intellectual development and to contribute to the transformation of their communities.
The primary function of a group is to serve as an environment of mutual support for a group of youth to dedicate themselves to gaining a deeper understanding of the world around them.
Groups are guided by older youth who are recognizing the significant role they can play in the lives of those younger than themselves. Although not exclusive to any particular age, youth seventeen and older tend to make excellent animators as they find it easy to treat junior youth not as children but as equals, and to encourage them to ask questions, express doubts, and engage in the investigation of reality.
In Waterloo Region, parents, youth, organizations and others are banding together in neighbourhoods and across localities to offer spaces that assist adolescents to express their inherent capacity and prepare for a life of service to humankind.
Spiritual and Intellectual Excellence
The program aims to assist young people to understand the importance of striving for excellence in all aspects of their spiritual and intellectual lives and aims to development an attitude of ongoing learning and earnest striving for personal and collective improvement in each participant.
Developing Powers of Expression
In order for junior youth to sharpen their spiritual perception, they must develop a richer language through which to articulate their observations, thoughts and feelings with clarity. The program aims to assist junior youth to enrich vocabulary, the ability to read with ease, and the capacity to understand well the meaning of what they read.
Reinforcing Moral Structures
Contributing to the construction of a better world demands of young people to become courageous in their commitment to high moral values. The program goes beyond equipping youth with a set of rules or moral guidelines; it aims to foster an entire moral structure in their minds and hearts and to endow each with a strong social purpose.
Sharpening Spiritual Perception
At an age of transition, young adolescents face a wide array of influences and ideas around them. The program aims to help junior youth go beyond the outer appearances of things and seek a deeper understanding of what they are witnessing and experiencing. It aims to help junior youth recognize the qualities of the human spirit at their disposal and the constructive and destructive forces of society that can lead to their glory or abasement.
A human being can live at different levels of consciousness. As junior youth enhance their spiritual perception and powers of expression, their minds and hearts become open to seeing the world through new eyes and their consciousness of what is possible for their own lives and the life of the their communities expands.
The program aims to foster young people who are committed to the service of others in all spheres of their lives, particularly to their local communities. They develop such a posture through discussions that help them to understand the role of an attitude of service in the progress of society and through carrying out acts of service as a group.
"They are being given the tools needed to combat the forces that would rob them of their true identify as noble beings and to work for the common good."
The Universal House of Justice, 2010
Curriculum & Sample Lesson
The program uses a number of educational materials to help develop language skills and the power of expression. Some of the materials also address mathematical concepts and social issues, while others seek to prepare young people to approach the investigation of physical, social and spiritual reality in a scientific manner. The concepts in the materials are inspired by the teachings of the Bahá’í Faith, but are designed in such a way as to touch on universal themes enriching to junior youth from all religious and cultural backgrounds.
Click below to see a sample lesson from one of the first texts of the program, Breezes of Confirmation.
Junior Youth Groups in Waterloo Region
There are groups in neighbourhoods across the Region of Waterloo. Groups are typically formed through the volition of community members who are supported by program coordinators to be trained as animators, connect with families and invite junior youth to participate. Some groups will then meet in public community spaces or schools, while others meet in homes. Many of these groups are still accepting new membership, but those interested can also be supported to form new groups.
There are currently groups in the following areas of the Region:
Clair Hills, Waterloo
Victoria Hills, Kitchener
Click below to connect with a program coordinator for questions about the Junior Youth Spiritual Empowerment Program or if you're interested in animating a group.