A woman who coordinates a junior youth program in her home recently attended a weekend planning meeting, and went home with something unexpected—a map of her state.
At the end of the meeting during the clean-up, she writes that “the large, beautiful map” of the state “that graced one wall of our meeting room was offered to me.”
Despite friendly chuckles from fellow Baha’is at the meeting, surprised to see a rolled-up 4 foot by 6 foot map tucked under her arm, the junior youth coordinator had a plan:
My hope was that it would fit on one of the walls in my house so that I could display it and adorn it with markers of some kind to indicate where all the junior youth groups in our state are located.
Sure enough, she was thrilled “to find that it fit perfectly on one of my walls” where many young people coming to her home would be able to see the map.
In November 2012, regarding junior youth, the Universal House of Justice wrote:
The merit of the junior youth spiritual empowerment program lies, first and foremost, in its effectiveness at enhancing the power of expression and the quality of spiritual perception within its participants and in assisting them to develop the capabilities necessary for a life of meaningful service to their communities.
In addition, the House of Justice praised the power of the program “to shape character” and “bring forth the praiseworthy qualities latent in junior youth.” “By multiplying vibrant junior youth groups,” they added, communities can learn much, including “how initiating one activity can, quite naturally, lead to the emergence of others.”
In the coordinator’s home town there are currently two junior youth groups. The regular meetings are on Fridays after school, and they also have a homework group on Tuesday evenings. Over a year and a half the group has grown from five to nineteen, including several children, with 5 youth and adults supporting the group. The coordinator writes:
It has become a space in which adults, youth, junior youth and children can have meaningful interactions in the context of helping each other with homework but also socializing, sharing a meal, baking, and playing games.
On the Tuesday following the planning meeting, she was eager to see how the youth would react to the map and to seeing the locations of other junior youth groups in the state.
Several children gathered to study the map, and a discussion ensued. Why were there no junior youth groups in one half of the state? How can we have two groups in our town when the state capital has none? One junior youth noted that a certain town had a lot of groups.
And they came to a conclusion: they really needed “to grow the program all over the state.” The coordinator writes:
It was so encouraging to hear these observations and to see how the visual representation of the spread of the program across the state helped these junior youth to recognize that they are part of something bigger and that there is real value in this program beyond maintaining our own little groups.
Within this lovely story, one may see the vision of the House of Justice unfolding, how the pursuit of junior youth groups and other activities can “quite naturally, lead to the emergence of others.”
And the woman who sponsors the junior youth gathering and brought home the map sums up her experience by writing:
On the heels of our wonderfully intense meeting last weekend which focused our attention so acutely on a continental youth strategy which will manifest itself in movement of youth across our region with the aim of establishment, strengthening and intensification of the junior youth spiritual empowerment program--I wanted to share that the protagonists of this strategy certainly include the junior youth themselves who will no doubt keep encouraging us all to strive for greater heights of excellence in this regard.