“I liked my junior youth group because it was nice to be around people of different backgrounds and to have some time to be with other people my age. I wouldn’t have to beg my parents to hang out with these friends at group because they knew it was a place where we were learning to be selfless, to help the community and to empower myself and others.
I was one of the older members of the group so I would help the others answer questions, study the materials, and motivate them to come to group. I developed patience and determination because I needed to understand everyone’s level of social skills. At the beginning, sometimes kids would not talk at all and no one would want to do anything. It was hard to go to every meeting but I would say to myself, “we have to do this” because I saw the need for it in my community and I wanted to support my sister. It helped me be able to organize meetings and I felt like more of a leader. Before the group, I was the most shy person in the entire world. Through the span of the two years that I was in the group I came out of my snail shell. In the group I was confronted with new situations. Like I had to speak up. It wasn’t like in school where you don’t have to say anything if you don’t want to unless the teacher calls on you. This was a group of friends and we all shared our thoughts without any pressure. In a junior youth group you need everyone to talk or else we won’t grow and learn as much. It was a more comfortable environment because I didn’t feel like I had to give every correct answer or be perfect.
The program has now helped me have my own junior youth group because now I know what to do as an animator. Also it helped me to see the whole spectrum of service projects that are possible to do in a community. There’s a lot more we can do in our community beyond just picking up trash. Now when I think of service, I think of all things that can bring people happiness in the community. And the program has helped me learn to give without expecting anything in return. It could be the simplest things but as long as it is from the heart it’s beneficial.”
– Sasha, 16 years old, graduated in 2012