Junior Youth Programs
The Junior Youth Spiritual Empowerment Program is a global education programme for 12 to 15 year olds seeking to develop the potential of young people to take charge of their own intellectual and moral development as human beings and contribute to the transformation of their neighbourhoods and communities. Junior youth participate in the programme as members of small community-based groups (known as a junior youth group) that are guided by a trained older youth or young adult referred to as an animator.
Experience from across the globe suggests that the program is effective when in place for three years. There is a critical window of opportunity during the special junior youth years, before a person’s attitudes, convictions and patterns of behaviour crystallize.
The junior youth age is a time of rapid physical, intellectual and emotional change. During this period, a new level of awareness manifests itself and fundamental concepts about individual and collective life are formulated. As junior youth become aware of the contradictions in society, they begin to question the standards set by adults and are always seeking answers to questions, often very philosophical ones.
Understanding the Forces of Society
The Junior Youth Spiritual Empowerment Program engages the expanding consciousness of junior youth in an exploration of reality that helps them analyze the constructive and destructive forces operating in society and the effects these forces exert on their thoughts and actions. In doing so, the program assists junior youth to go beyond outer appearances and to seek a deeper understanding of what they observe and experience in the world.
To be able to make moral choices, one needs more than a set of rules; an entire moral structure has to be built in the mind and the heart of a young person—a structure that connects spiritual concepts, patterns of behavior, and the knowledge of consequences, and stands up by the forces of volition and courage. The Junior Youth Spiritual Empowerment Program facilitates the development of such a moral structure through study of course materials, discussion of relevant social issues and participation in service projects.
Power of Expression
There is an intimate connection between the powers of thought, understanding and expression. To empower junior youth to analyze and understand the social forces impacting on their lives, they need to be assisted to develop the ability to read with good comprehension, to describe ideas with clarity and eloquence and to articulate concepts with reasonable precision. The course materials used by junior youth groups contain exercises and activities that aim to develop these capacities in junior youth while, at the same time, reinforcing moral structures.
As the program develops the capabilities of junior youth to take charge of their own moral and intellectual development, they are also assisted to analyze the needs of their communities and to identify acts of service that can contribute to a process of transformation in their neighbourhoods. The junior youth are then assisted to implement these acts of service and to refine them over time through a process of action, reflection and consultation.
The program integrates a series of books, which in a simple yet profound manner provide junior youth with the tools to develop their skills to serve their communities effectively. These books generally carry a theme or revolve around a central concept, the careful study of which contributes to the spiritual empowerment of junior youth. Themes such as confirmation and hope are studied within the context of the lives of junior youth from around the world and exercises are carried out that develop the power of expression while, at the same time, reinforcing moral structures.
Local volunteer animators organize and accompany junior youth groups. They are certified under the Baha’i Child Protection Policy, which includes a mandatory Blue Card. Family support is essential to the success of the program, and animators welcome and encourage family participation.
Please contact us (provide link or email address) to find out about junior youth groups in your neighbourhood and/or become an animator to start a junior youth group.
Between July-October 2013, youth and young adults across the globe, many having completed the junior youth spiritual empowerment programme and with further training now serving as animators of junior youth groups, are participating in one of 114 conferences to share their experiences, gain new insights and contribute to an ongoing discourse about contributing to the betterment of society.
Conference reports, photographs and audio-visual materials are available at:
“Listening to how much people want to make a change in the world has inspired me to do my part and start my journey towards serving younger youth in my neighbourhood.”
Junior youth programme