Junior Youth Empowerment ProgrammeThe Junior Youth Empowerment Programme is a global educational programme for young teens aged 11-15.
Volunteering in community projects and performing acts of kindness can have a positive impact on mental wellbeing. There is a small amount of evidence to suggest that getting involved in activities and projects may also have a positive impact on physical health. Community engagement can foster a greater sense of ownership and identification with the local area, which may lead to long-term sustainability. It can also combat social exclusion and empower individuals.
buzz Manchester Health & Wellbeing Service
The programme is inspired by the principles of the Baha’i Faith, a global religious community whose central principle is the oneness of mankind. The programme is designed to be open to young people of all backgrounds. In addition to running junior youth groups for 11-15 year-olds, the Baha’i community also offers training to youth from all backgrounds who wish to train to run these groups. A closely related programme for children aged 5-10 offers classes which focus on character development. The curriculum for the children’s class programme is organised around a series of grades, which seek to provide spiritual and intellectual education through activities such as singing, storytelling, cooperative games, drama and art.
"The junior youth programme helps us think about what we can do with our lives. It helps us develop different life skills which will be helpful to us in the future. When we have to make difficult decisions, the group helps us from making bad ones. It changes our perspective on things and helps us with the challenges we face in the different aspects of our lives. We also learn through fun and creative ways which helps me remember better the things we learn about and be able to use it in my life."
"In the junior youth group it teaches us many things, like it’s not good to litter because it’s bad for us and the environment and could cause hazardous situations. I think the group also teaches us right from wrong .This has impacted my life because it is something that I might want to help with one day because it doesn’t just help me, it helps everyone else in Manchester. This program could have a huge impact by helping people with mental and social skills."
"With the help of this group I feel more connected to my community and neighbours. It is like the first bricks of a building that after being built will shelter all of us."
During the current lockdown, all activities have moved to Zoom. During periods of fewer COVID restrictions, however, the team has been able to keep the activities, whether classes for children, empowerment groups for junior youth or training groups for parents, running at the Powerhouse. When open there is a programme running every day, except Sunday, at the Powerhouse, usually during the after-school slot of 4-7pm. During the pandemic/lockdowns we have been unable to hold regular camps in person which are another component of the programme, but we have instead held virtual camps on Zoom.
Currently, in Moss Side, there are over 40 young people participating in the Junior Youth Empowerment Programme. When COVID restrictions were put in place, this 40 was split into groups of 6 in order to still be able to meet in public parks during the Summer and in the Powerhouse during the Autumn and Winter. The groups now meet weekly, almost a group every day and they progress through a series of texts which sharpen their intellectual capacities. They have also carried out a range of service projects in the past few months, such as a Christmas drive, where food donations from large supermarkets were given to food banks, distributing books from the Powerhouse library to children in the area since the library was closed, and planting a vegetable patch in order to provide food for those who were struggling during the pandemic.
Increased mental wellbeing
More engaged in community
Community ownership and long-term sustainability
Empowerment of individuals
Increased physical activity and physical health
Research Evidence Base
Curry et al (2018) Happy to help? A systematic review and meta-analysis of the effects of performing acts of kindness on the well-being of the actor. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 76, pp. 320-329
Husk et al; Cochrane Systematic Review (2016) Participation in environmental enhancement and conservation activities for health and well‐being in adults: a review of quantitative and qualitative evidence
Pillemer et al (2010) Environmental Volunteering and Health Outcomes over a 20-Year Period, The Gerontologist, 50 (5), pp. 594-602
Public Health England (2015) A guide to community-centred approaches for health and wellbeing
Neighbourhood Health Worker
Moss Side, Hulme and Rusholme
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