"Regard man as mine rich in gems of inestimable value. Education can, alone, cause it to reveal its treasures, and enable mankind to benefit therefrom."

To register for a Junior Youth Empowerment Program in your area or to obtain more information please email melville@wa.bahai.org.au

Junior youth face challenges that are unique to their age group. The degree of nurturing and encouragement given to them at this impressionable age determines who they will become as youth and adults. By providing Junior Youth programs that explore ethical and moral issues, whilst encouraging personal expression, the true potential within these young people can be realised, thereby benefiting themselves and society as a whole.

Baha'i-inspired junior youth courses address humanity's growing concern for the moral and spiritual education of young people; a challenge which no community can afford to ignore.

The courses focus on the development of spiritual qualities or virtues, intellectual capabilities and capacities for service.

Through spiritual empowerment and development of spiritual perception the courses aim to raise the self esteem of young people and to equip them with the knowledge, concepts and skills that will enable them to engage in acts of service to the community and to humanity.

Participants are engaged inactivities such as artistic expression, discussion, drama, cooperative games, story telling and acts of community service. They are encouraged to develop a strong sense of purpose, empowering their own transformation and leading them to contribute to the advancement of society.

The program is open to all, between the ages of 12 to 14, subject to parental approval. Once the junior youths are 15, they can participate in study circles .

Junior youth classes are held on a regular basis and there is no written homework.

All program facilitators are certified under the Baha'i Child Protection Policy which includes a mandatory police check.

The primary purpose of a junior youth group is to serve as an environment of mutual support for its members, youth ranging in age from 12 to 14; one in which the spiritual perception, patterns of thought and behavior, as well as the necessary language can be developed so as to enable these youth to become builders of unity and champions of justice in their own neighborhoods and communities.

Each group centers around the study of materials which have been developed, piloted and adopted in junior youth groups around the globe. Their relevance goes beyond cultural or religious boundaries, and they seek to help junior youth develop an intellectual and spiritual framework with which to approach their path in life. While central to any Junior Youth Group, study also only takes up a small portion of the time junior youth spend together.

The concepts, attitudes, qualities, and skills considered and discussed in the materials are immediately put into action through service to the community. The scope and specific form of that service is determined through collective consultation amongst the group members.

Developing skills around various arts, as well as engaging in healthy recreation are key ingredients to the activities of junior youth groups. Like service, the chosen arts and sports are decided by the group. Arts vary from woodworking, painting and ceramics to photography, writing and film. Recreation could be anything from a game of soccer, or kick ball, to hiking along the beach, or yoga.

Each group is guided by one to two facilitators, or “animators” -- trained individuals, who are convinced of, and passionate about, the capacities of junior youth, and what they have to offer this world on its journey towards material and spiritual excellence. Animators do not dictate the course of action taken by the group, but rather help to develop a unity of vision about the purpose of junior youth groups, and then serve as navigators for the youth as they figure out their path toward understanding the world, service, and life itself.

The Junior Youth Spiritual Empowerment Program is an endeavor that seeks to meet the particular needs or junior youth who are no longer children, while also not yet grown youth. Often, this group of youth is attributed with certain negative characteristics. The Empowerment Program approaches junior youth with the assumption that these negative characteristics are not a given reality of this age, but rather are a result of confusion on the part of society at large about how to attend to the true needs and potentialities of this population.

If one examines junior youth across nations and cultures, it becomes clear that an acute sense of justice, a deep sense of altruism, a longing to understand the forces at play in the world today, and a zeal for serving their community and the world are what truly characterize this age group. The blossoming intellect and spiritual awareness that are newly manifesting at this moment in a youth’s development are “gems of inestimable value” which, if nurtured in a coherent, genuine and loving way, can become a source of transformation in the identity of that youth and, when applied in the field of service, their community. The Empowerment Program seeks to create an environment in which this type of transformation can take place; one in which junior youth become champions of justice and builders of unity.