Junior Youth Animator Resource Website

Animator Ideas is a resource website for animators of Bahá’í junior youth groups.  It covers suggestions on how to get your Junior Youth group up and running as quickly as possible, lots of ideas on extra activities while using the Junior Youth books, working with parents, ideas to promote discipline, and much more!

“Among the young ones in the community are those known as junior youth… Creative attention must be devoted to involving them in programmes of activity that will engage their interests, mould their capacities for teaching and service, and involve them in social interaction with older youth. The employment of the arts in various forms can be of great value in such activity.”

– The Universal House of Justice, 2000
Check it out and spread the word – it’s an amazing resource for animators.

Bridge Builder award for Peter Adriance

Bit late, but today I received news that one of our CSD-17 delegates, Peter Adriance, received the 5th annual Bridge Builder Award from the Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington on the 1st of June 2009.
And if you are wondering how you can ‘green’ your Baha’i (core) activities, just read Peter’s suggestions (in bold) below. Easy, isn’t it?
The info below is by Ariel Olson Surowidjoj, Office of External Affairs of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the USA.

For nearly 20 years Peter Adriance has been building bridges as the National Spiritual Assembly’s non-governmental organization liaison for sustainable development.

On June 1 he built many more in receiving the aptly named 5th annual Bridge Builders Award from the Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington.

It was, he said, a teachable moment. “In recent years there’s been an upsurge in recognition of the value that faith groups bring to discussions on the environment,” Adriance said in an interview.

“Science tells us what’s happening and what we should do about it. And the faiths tell us why we should act.”

That’s something Adriance has excelled at in his time as NGO liaison.

Between 1990 and 2000, he participated in consultations that resulted in the launch of the Earth Charter, a declaration of fundamental principles for building a just, sustainable, peaceful global society.

He also helped found — and continues to serve — the U.S. Partnership for Education for Sustainable Development, a collection of more than 300 organizations supporting the goals of the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development.

And he has been active in the International Environment Forum, a network of people in more than 50 countries who strive to apply Bahá’í teachings to environmental challenges.

Said the National Spiritual Assembly in a letter of congratulations to Adriance, “We are gratified to see your efforts garnering the recognition they so richly deserve — particularly from an enlightened organization that understands their roots in your longstanding affirmation of the Baháʹí Faith’s universal and unifying teachings.”

Prior to the awards ceremony at the Catholic University, Adriance participated in a roundtable discussion with three other awardees of Buddhist, Jewish and Christian affiliation. Each participant shared the fundamental values and scriptures that inspire the environmental ideals of his or her faith.

“It’s more powerful to work together,” Adriance said of interfaith work, noting that public receptivity to faith-based environmental solutions is on the rise. “The environment is not an isolated issue any more,” he said. “People have come to recognize the important ties between environmental, economic and social systems.”

Adriance sees sustainable development as a natural extension of the Bahá’í teachings and encourages Bahá’ís to “go green” as they implement increasing numbers of core activities.

To accomplish this, he said, Bahá’ís can hold devotional gatherings on themes related to the environment and social justice, incorporate recycling and reduced energy use into community functions, and prompt discussions or provide service opportunities that foster environmental awareness among children and junior youth.

“The Universal House of Justice encouraged such action more than 20 years ago in its (1989) Ridván message,” Adriance noted, “when it said that ‘assisting in endeavors to conserve the environment in ways which blend with the rhythm of life of our community must assume more importance in Bahá’í activities.’ “We should consider environmental stewardship as integral to our mandate to carry forward an ever-advancing civilization and apply environmental consciousness to all of our community initiatives.”

To learn more about a range of faith resources for sustainability (including Bahá’í) please visit www.uspartnership.org and click on the Faith Communities link.

7th Day CSD-17

Sunday – day of rest (sort of). I went to the NY Baha’i centre in Manhattan for their morning devotional. Lots of prayers & songs in English & Spanish (and Dutch). Very nice, I even recognised the host from last year. It was great to be back.

I then went back to the hostel, had a nap, skyped with my parents, updated my blog (still doing that as you can ‘see’) and crawled through about 25 emails with comments about our Rural development statement & questions. I met the question deadline (phew!) and have to finalise a 2nd draft of the statement for further circulation tonight. I’m hoping to go to bed early though. Need to find my camera cable so I can download the photos from yesterday.

AIDS & junior youth

Yesterday was World AIDS Day. This year’s theme was: ‘Lead – Empower – Deliver‘. The umbrella theme for 2007-08, Leadership, provides an opportunity to highlight both the political leadership needed to fulfill commitments that have been made in the response to AIDS – particularly the promise of universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support by 2010 – and celebrating the leadership that has been witnessed at all levels of society.

The UK theme for this year was: ‘Respect & Protect‘. ‘Respect & Protect’ is inclusive and highlights the responsibility everyone has to transform attitudes to HIV and encourage actions that stop its spread.

I know it sounds a bit strange, but the 2008 theme ‘Lead – Empower – Deliver‘ reminds me very much of the spiritual empowerment programme for junior youth that Baha’i communities all over the world are using.

Aren’t those 3 words what we would like every junior youth to be?

Be a leader amongst their peers,

Be empowered, and

Be able to deliver (serve your local community).

It reminds me of something Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Baha’i Faith, wrote:

“He urges you to make up your minds to do great, great deeds for the Faith; the condition of the world is steadily growing worse, and your generation must provide the saints, heroes, martyrs and administrators of future years. With dedication and will power you can rise to great heights!”

And the Universal House of Justice, in its Ridvan message of 2000, said the following about junior youth:

“Among the young ones in the community are those known as junior youth, who fall between the ages of, say, 12 and 15. They represent a special group with special needs as they are somewhat in between childhood and youth when many changes are occurring within them. Creative attention must be devoted to involving them in programmes of activity that will engage their interests, mold their capacities for teaching and service, and involve them in social interaction with older youth. The employment of the arts in various forms can be of great value in such activity.”

I’ve just started a junior youth group with a friend, so we’re completely in learning mode for this core activity. All good fun so far and they are busy thinking of a name for their group and what service means to them.

Required: 18 million teachers – Gezocht: 18 miljoen onderwijzers

18 million. Any idea how much that is? Do you know how many zeros there are in this number?

Guess what: 18 million extra teachers are needed to reach the Millenium Development Goal of universal primary education by 2015. Eighteen million….. In Africa alone, 3.8 million additional teachers are required to achieve this Goal.

That search for 18 million is a massive ‘Search for Truth’. Not as simple as our recent Baha’i childrens class where they searched for truth, using the story of the elephant & the blind men.

Searching the truth

Searching the truth

Quick question: do you remember your best teacher? Was he or she from a primary or secondary school, Sunday class at church, Baha’i children class, or summer school? Whenever it was, please send some positive thoughts to every teacher you know, because today is World Teachers’ Day. A Day set aside by UNESCO to honour and recognize teachers around the world.

In my opinion true education is about learning to search for the truth, just like our recent Baha’i childrens class (you remember the story of the blind men & the elephant?).

The UNESCO report “Learning: the treasure within” by the International Community on Education for the 21st Century stated in 1996 that education should be based on 4 pillars (4 onderwijspilaren).

These 4 pillars complement & strengthen each other. They are the pillars of:

  1. learning to know
  2. learning to do
  3. learning to live together
  4. learning to be

Learning to know lays the foundations of learning throughout life. It refers to the basic knowledge we need to understand our environment and to live in dignity. It includes arousing curiosity, research and discovery, and developing concentration, memory, and thought.

Learning to do is all about practical skills, teamwork and initiative, a readiness to take risks, turning our knowledge into effective innovations.

Learning to live together is based on developing an understanding of ourselves AND others through dialogue, resulting in empathy, respect, and appreciation. It is about recognizing our growing interdependence, experiencing shared purposes, implementing common projects and a joint future, and managing conflicts in a peaceful way.

Learning to be deals with freedom of thought, feeling, and imagination that we need to act more independently, with more insight, more critically, and more responsibly. The end of education is to discover and open the talents which are hidden like a treasure within every person.

Of course, as a Baha’i, this last phrase talking about ‘a treasure within’ reminds me immediately of a quotation from Gleanings by Baha’u’llah:

Lack of a proper education hath, however, deprived him of that which he doth inherently posses…….. Regard man as a mine rich in gems of inestimable value. Education can, alone, cause it to reveal its treasures.

Individual Baha’is and their communities all over the world are heavily involved in education for children, junior youth and youth. Young people are our ‘most precious resource’ and I know of some awesome inspiring educational programmes such as SAT in South & Central America, and FAS community schools in India.

And although a a UNESCO press release states: ‘Even when the overall supply of teachers is sufficient, remote and disadvantaged areas across the globe may suffer persistent problems in recruitment and retention. This shortage of qualified teachers is one of the biggest challenges to achieving the Education for All goals’, I’m not that pessimistic.

Some readers might say that I have too much faith in the efforts and energy of my Baha’i family all around the globe. I don’t mind. I know these efforts have been blessed by Baha’u’llah.