Children, when they reach their early teens, often find they desire a more flexible, self-guided learning format than children's classes provide. For this age bracket, the Bahá'í community organizes junior youth groups.
Youth in their early teens tend to desire a lot of autonomy; they like to make their own decisions about what to do and what to learn. They also tend to have extraordinary creativity, energy and motivation. Our junior youth animators help to channel those energies into positive, community-building activities, teaching youth how to use their power to support and improve the communities in which they live.
At this age, youth also tend to have a lot of questions. They can be unsure of their place in the world, overwhelmed by so many rapid changes in their lives, and often feel that they don't know where to turn for answers.
In a Bahá'í junior youth group, they will find friendship – other people, about the same age, in different situations but with similar questions.
They will find support – there is no prejudice, no discrimination, no taunting, teasing or bullying, and there are other youth (and an animator who remembers what it's like to go through all that) to talk to.
They will find answers – not by "argument from authority" like in many schools, but rather by a gentle hand steering them in the right direction to find (and understand) the resources they need to answer their own questions about complex societal, cultural and theological issues.
They will also find a chance to shine, taking the lead on projects of their own design that improve community life for everyone in their neighbourhoods.
Junior youth animators tend to be close in age and culture to the youth themselves; many of Kingston's facilitators are university undergrads. As with most activities the Bahá'í community organizes for its friends and neighbours in Kingston, these groups are run entirely on a no-cost, volunteer basis.