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October 15, 2015

The Power of Youth
Lessons learned in the Spiritual and Moral Education of Children

Child ColouringAll across Ottawa, dedicated volunteers have been serving their communities by supporting a series of spiritual and moral education classes for children ages 4-11. These children’s classes aim to help the participants become dynamic contributors to their families and neighbourhoods. At one class in the Foster Farm neighbourhood, the volunteer teachers already understand that teaching these young children is a rewarding and fulfilling service opportunity. They are increasingly coming to understand that junior youth have unique and powerful contributions to make to such projects.
Recently, the Foster Farm children’s class was assisted by a group of 11 to 15 year olds from the south of Ottawa, who were participating in a Junior Youth Camp. As part of their camp, they volunteered to teach a children’s class in Foster Farm focussed on the spiritual quality of “caring.”  The regular teachers trained the junior youth to work with the children and helped them to prepare their materials, supplies and their lesson plan.

The junior youth took took on a number of leadership roles, singing songs, reading stories, playing games and sharing prayers and quotations from the Baha'i scriptures related to “caring.” The youth developed quick bonds of affection with the children and they shone in their new roles. One of the regular children's class teachers, Hanna said that “having the junior youth in the class greatly assisted the children as they could relate to them in a very different way than the teachers who were typically older youth or adults.”

The junior youth left a special gift for the class in the form of a beautifully decorated “virtues lily pond” poster. Each week, the children can now attach another lily pad to represent the new spiritual quality that they learn about. This useful and fun tool will help the children remember the virtues and spiritual qualities that they are learning to apply in their daily lives.
Lily Pad

 “Children are the most precious treasure a community can possess,” wrote the Universal House of Justice, the governing body of the International Baha’i Community. “An atmosphere needs to be maintained in which children feel that they belong to the community and share in its purpose.” The teachers and the youth who participated in this class learned a great deal about the importance of building relationships between younger children and those who are just a few years older. And in today’s society, where junior youth aged 11 to 15 might not always be entrusted with leadership roles, there is evidence that these junior youth have both the spiritual energy and the abilities to step forward and “care” for others, serving as positive role models for those younger than themselves.

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