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July 12, 2011

Empowering junior youth to serve
By Anthea Nelson
I serve as an animator of a junior youth group in Ottawa. In one of our early meetings, I felt like giving up. My co-animator had cancelled on me, I was overloaded with school and other events, and I was unsure whether it was even worth it to have a meeting that week. Would the junior youth even be home this week? Would they be willing to learn? Or would they be busy or distracted?

After consulting with my family and saying a few prayers I decided that I should give it a try anyway. I’d work with what I had. If the participants were around, then great. But if not, I would spend the time planning the upcoming lessons.

Lately our group had been struggling. We had only partly completed a service project, we were nearing the middle of our book, and we were losing our initial momentum. When I arrived in the neighbourhood, I said a few quick prayers and knocked on the door of the first junior youth. Surprisingly, he was home and feeling very enthusiastic about having a class that day. This same pattern continued as I knocked on the door of everyone in the group – something I had never seen happen. As I walked with the youth to the home of our host they chatted excitedly about school, vacations, and weekend plans.

When we began I knew we had to take advantage of this enthusiasm, and that a regular lesson was not what needed to happen. As we spoke about potential ideas for our next service project they became very eager and excited. Ideas were finally flowing.

In the group there is one girl who hardly ever speaks; she is always very quiet and shy. But at the mention of a big game of tag or making bracelets for money she began to speak up and share her ideas. She talked with members of the group she rarely spoke to and they consulted and shared ideas as I hurried to write them all down.

After some yummy snacks and a game we decided to end it for the day. I asked them to consider what they thought their neighbourhood needed and what they had to offer and reminded them that we’d come back to it in a few weeks.

After giving them time to think, our group finally settled on the idea of doing a charity barbeque for the local children’s hospital (CHEO) in their neighbourhood park. They still have a long list of other ideas that they are looking forward to completing in the future. I learned a lot that day, and it reminded me what my mom has always told me, “you take one step, God will take nine more for you.”
Pilgrimage Photo No. 1

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