Power of collaboration and focused efforts achieves results
The Taranaki Cluster has worked really hard since the start of the current Five Year Plan to establish a junior youth group. The Marfell neighbourhood had been the focus of many home visits and efforts to connect with members of the community, but these efforts were yet to yield results.
With the settling of a pioneer family in this neighbourhood, processes started to become more focused and expansion was carried out more systematically. Connecting with junior youth still seemed to be a challenge.
During workshop sessions of the recent National Teaching Conference, He Raranga Hou, consultations between the Taranaki and Triumph clusters resulted in a team from the Highbury neighbourhood in Palmerston North (Triumph cluster) to start visiting New Plymouth in Taranaki in support of their efforts with the junior youth spiritual empowerment programme. On one such visit, they accompanied the nucleus of friends in Marfell to visit Spotswood College, talking to several youth about the junior youth spiritual empowerment programme, as well as organising a youth night as a follow up.
During the recent expansion phase, with the help of the Winter Initiative visiting team, it was possible to engage a number of youth in Marfell neighbourhood by running a series of ten youth nights that sparked their interest to participate in the community-building process. After the visiting team left and through consultation with various institutions the decision was made to run a junior youth intensive training gathering during the second week of the school holidays.
An experienced animator from the Triumph cluster came to support the intensive gathering and assisted with the planning of the programme together with a member of the local community who is an animator. The day before the camp, the two animators and a member of the Regional Bahá'í Council, visited several homes of the junior youth to confirm participation.
The camp itself was held over a two-day period. Three junior youth attended for the full two days and one local youth came for a portion of the second day. The participants were engaged in the study of the junior youth text, Breezes of Confirmation and completed the book by the end of the second day. In addition to studying the materials they took time out for music, artistic expressions, drama and reflection. The camp was a success and the junior youth enjoyed the delicious food prepared by the Regional Bahá'í Council member.
As a result, the junior youth have now committed to form and meet weekly as a junior youth group and are assisting the local children’s classes as part of their service to the community.