Pebbles to Pearls
Junior Youth Empowerment Program
In the period of life between 12 and 15, young people will experience many physical, emotional, and intellectual changes as they leave childhood behind. Not yet in the fullness of youth, “junior youth” start to develop fundamental concepts about individual and collective life while also beginning to question much of what they have been taught in childhood. As these changes occur, junior youth benefit from a range of activities that enhance their capacities and prepare them to participate in their communities through meaningful acts of service.
The Pebbles to Pearls Junior Youth Empowerment Program gathers groups of junior youth in their own neighbourhoods, engaging them in a wide range of activities that include study, healthy recreation, arts, and community service to the community. Group discussions are enhanced by a sequence of books designed to develop language skills and enhance their powers of expression.
Acts of service to the community play a special role in helping junior youth to apply what they learn into meaningful action that positively impacts the lives of others. Groups analyze what needs and opportunities exist in their communities, and together they design, carry out, and evaluate service projects that promote community wellbeing.
Wordswell uses a number of educational materials developed by a global network of Bahá’í inspired organizations concerned with developing language skills and the power of expression. Some also address mathematical concepts and social issues, while others seek to prepare young people to approach the investigation of physical, social and spiritual reality in a scientific manner. The moral concepts in the materials are drawn from the Bahá’í teachings, but are designed in such a way as to touch on universal themes enriching to junior youth from all religious and cultural backgrounds.
Junior youth groups are accompanied by one or two older youth who serve as the group’s “animators.” Often in their late teens or early twenties, animators themselves often benefit from the opportunity to examine their own goals and capacities while accompanying their younger peers. Wordswell offers regular training sessions and ongoing support for youth interested in serving as animators in their communities.