Across Canada and throughout the world, children and youth have had their schooling temporarily suspended in order to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). One group of youth in Brampton, Ontario is finding ways to make creative use of their time while they are not attending school.
The members of this group are participants in the junior youth empowerment program, an initiative of the Baha’i community that engages adolescents between 11 and 14 years old in an exploration of their talents and capacities that can lend service to their communities.
The youth in Brampton considered how to create spaces on social media to engage people in elevated conversations, while also drawing on the power of arts and crafts to uplift their spirits. Their initial discussions were informed by a number of considerations, like how to connect the arts with spirituality and a sense of purpose that can strengthen the community at large.
Eventually, a number of workshops were offered over social media by youth who had a talent to share with others. The first workshop was called “cards of hope,” where participants made cards to share hope with family and neighbours. Others taught classical Indian dancing, focused on the theme of “new beginnings”, as well as rap and spoken word, which emphasized drawing on God’s assistance for protection in times of difficulty. Another chose the theme of “mental and spiritual health” as he led a series of backyard exercises for all ages that would help families to exercise while maintaining physical distancing.
Yet another workshop taught participants how to do “lettering” to create a beautiful transcription of a quotation about how we can see humanity as one human family.
“There is a lot of joy among the youth, and they are in awe of the people that have the courage to offer these workshops,” said Martharoot Malungu, one of the program’s youth animators.
In response to the workshops, other youth are offering to share their talents, and are asking about other ways they can be of service to their friends and neighbours. “I can’t believe that this friend had the courage of doing this workshop, I can do one too,” said one of the adolescent workshop participants.