Between the ages of 12 and 15, “junior youth” are in a stage of life that experiences rapid physical, intellectual, and emotional changes.
This stage sees an increased interest in profound questions and in their unique talents and abilities. During this short and critical three-year period, ideas about the individual and society that may very well shape the rest of their lives are formed. However, this is often combined with feelings of worry, discomfort, and doubt that may produce contradictions in behaviour.
Junior youth groups help young people to navigate this crucial stage in life with the support of a trained facilitator, often in their late-teens to early-twenties, referred to as the “animator” of the group. Groups typically meet on a weekly basis in a neighbourhood setting, offering the opportunity to engage with older youth to focus on service to their community and the environment.
The core of the program consists of a series of books. These books cover themes that include: the development of language, interpersonal and leadership skills; addressing social issues; the application of mathematical concepts in society; and, the investigation of human reality through science. Animators enhance study materials with artistic or physical activities and service projects.
While the themes are studied from a Bahá’í perspective, this is not a program of religious instruction. In fact, the structure and books are used by a diversity of groups and organizations in Canada, and worldwide, as the Bahá’í perspective is useful for educational programs with early-adolescents. Guelph has taken a leadership role in offering this program in a number of public schools. We welcome the opportunity to meet with other school administrators to speak more about the program's achievements in Guelph.
Family support is essential to the success of the program and can include hosting in your home, offering of snacks and food, and more. Community support is also encouraged as junior youth are looking for opportunities to be of service.
The program is offered and insured by the Bahá'í Training Institute of Ontario, and all volunteers are required to have up to date police checks.