What is the Junior Youth Spiritual Empowerment Program?

A Junior Youth Group in the South Pacific nation of Kiribati. (Photo: Baha'i World Centre)

Worldwide, junior youth are participating in an endeavour that strives to give them a voice in today’s society. These junior youth groups are enhancing their power of expression, sharpening their spiritual perception and allowing them to analyse the constructive and destructive forces of society.

Who Participates in These Groups?

The participants of this group are junior youth between the ages of 12 and 15. This is a crucial period of a junior youth’s life as their consciousness is expanding and, day by day, they are becoming increasingly exposed to the forces of society.

The older youth that acts as a guide to the junior youth is referred to as an “Animator”. The role of an Animator is to assist the junior youth in developing their capacities, encouraging them to contribute to the betterment of society as well as encouraging them to question the world around them. Most importantly, an Animator must strive to become a true friend to the junior youth.

What Happens in a Junior Youth Group?

There are multiple aspects of a junior youth group that contribute to moral and spiritual empowerment. One aspect of the group is to study text which includes stories of junior youth around the world which the members of a junior youth group can relate to and apply certain concepts to their own lives.

The first book in the junior youth sequence of text is called Breezes of Confirmation, in which the life of a young girl from a remote village is discovering the meaning of divine “confirmations”. While it is important to note that junior youth groups and their texts are Baha’i-inspired, there is no religious indoctrination whatsoever.

Another aspect to a junior youth group is the service component. In this component, the junior youth come up with ways to complete selfless acts of service that have a twofold moral purpose. This essentially means that individuals are not only empowered to take charge of their own moral and intellectual growth, but to simultaneously contribute to the well being of society. Depending on the group, many other activities may take place such as: sport, recreational activities and various arts.

All these aspects seek to strengthen the power of expression that junior youth inherently possess. This power of expression will allow them to clearly voice their thoughts and opinions in a society that tends to view their age group as reckless or troublesome.

How Can Junior Youth Groups Make a Difference?

Junior youth groups can make a significant difference in communities, neighbourhoods, villages and even the world at large! When junior youth become spiritually empowered, they take on tremendous amounts of responsibility to contribute to the betterment of society. A junior youth group has the potential to change their surroundings through the service projects that they do, keeping in mind that change is most sustainable when their efforts are consistent. With countless groups around the globe, youth are already moving the world!

Visit the official Baha’i Community website to learn more about Junior Youth and Early Adolescence programs, or you can also watch our brief 57 second video explaining the Junior Youth Spiritual Empowerment Program (JYSEP) here:

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