The Parthenon

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Middle schoolers participate in new mentoring program

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Huntington’s middle school aged youth have a new source for a different form of mentoring from the Junior Youth Spiritual Empowerment Group.

Junior Youth Groups is an international youth mentoring program inspired by the Baha’i Faith.

The Baha’i Faith is a world religion that promotes unity and community growth. It believes that all other world religions stem from one God.

The Junior Youth Groups do not teach any religion to the students or mentors, who are also called animators. The program uses the techniques of the Baha’i Faith to promote unity, service, empowerment and character-building to the middle school students or the junior youth.

“It doesn’t teach any explicit religion, it’s not a Baha’i program. It is for people of all religions, all races, all people to come together within their own communities to come together and cause positive changes,” said Nadye Menking, one of the animators.

The Ruhi Institute creates the materials for the program and distributes them to Junior Youth Group animators worldwide.

Huntington only has two animators so far, Menking, a junior pre-med biological science major and Michael Colby, a senior geology major.

Menking said animators create their own lesson plans for small book studies for weekly meetings with their students. These skills are learned in training after becoming an animator.

“It’s not like a school effort, it’s more like an enhancement kind of educational process,” Menking said.

The lesson books have components of math and language elements to help the junior youth academically. Meetings also include artistic and social aspects to promote growth for the students.

The social aspect is what changes their lives though, said Menking. It is the friendship with someone older who cares about their school day, their problems and wants to give advice.

“The main thing is it’s not about teaching something to these kids,” said Colby. “Its about helping them bring out what’s already inside of them, helping express themselves, bring out their creativity.”

“That’s why they are called animators. It’s like animating, inspiring, giving life,” Menking said.

Menking and Colby will be in the student center next week from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday to talk to Marshall students interested in becoming animators. An interest meeting will be held next Friday at 6:00 p.m. at the student center.

Karenann Flouhouse can be contacted at [email protected]

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