Texas junior youth group sparkles–and shines

April 3, 2024
Texas junior youth group sparkles–and shines

Reported by Debbie Villagomez

In the Arlington mid-cities cluster of north Texas, one Bahá’í junior youth group has a service protocol. As soon as this group completes one of the books in their series, it plans a project to fulfill the service component of the junior youth curriculum. In effect, they collaborate with the community to determine needs, mobilize friends to join in and create a common vision for change.

Because all the participants of the group go to the Kennedale Junior High School, they thought that doing a service day at the school would be a fruitful way to give back. They invited a few sixth-grade friends from a second junior youth group that attend the same school to join them.

The kids had observed that the small district maintenance staff often takes a long time to get work orders completed because they cover five campuses. They brainstormed solutions. Each of the kids named something they wanted to see get done and what they could do to help.

A few of the junior youth met with the principal to present their ideas. The principal and office administrators were impressed with not only their suggestions but also with the kids’ desire to serve. So, on Dec. 20,  during winter break when school was empty, the junior youth all rallied for five hours of service. Together they:

–cleaned and disinfected every desk and all the door handles in each of the 40 rooms.
–pulled hundreds of old staples out of bulletin boards and walls.
–cleaned graffiti off bathroom stalls.
–walked the perimeter of the school and picked up soda bottles and random trash.
–created and hung three appreciation posters: One for the office staff, one for the custodians for making their school sparkle; one for the cafeteria ladies thanking them bunches for their lunches.

Afterwards, the junior youth and parents went out for a pizza dinner to celebrate and reflect on the experience. A few of them shared that the service project was a highlight of their school break. Here are excerpts of what the partcipants had to say:

Ava Brown, 13:

“I wanted to give to the community that is always giving to me. I think it’s crucial for the school environment to be clean. I enjoy group projects. My favorite part was getting to bond with other members by talking while working. For example, we wiped the bathroom stall doors and it was a tough job. But by talking and laughing, we got it done in no time!”


Maiya Hendricks, 12:

“The staff works so hard to make sure we have a great learning environment. My favorite part of the experience was working together to help make our school shine. My favorite part about being in a junior youth group is making new friends. Everyone is always so nice and they listen when you have something to say.”


Ty Hayes, 13:

“The teachers spend so much time and effort into our education that I wanted to show my appreciation. My favorite part was getting to hang out with friends. It was helpful to meet with Ms. Bruce [the principal] ahead of time to better understand the greatest needs and how we can best be of service.”


Bryson Bruce, 12:

“I was happy to help the school’s appearance and I dislike when it’s not in good condition. I really wanted to help the custodians. That’s a lot of work for them.“


Caiden Soeun, 13:

“Many teachers and employees have to use a lot of their time to support us. I can think back and say I was able to help and give back to our school.”  


Isabella Brown, 12:

“This was a great learning experience and I was glad to help our school because the school is part of the community. I loved making the posters for the lunch ladies, custodians and front office staff.”


Noah Villagomez, 12:

“People don’t often do what we did. Some of the things we did probably never get done!  I loved hearing everyone being so grateful and thanking all of us. We even had one of my old teachers mail us a card. When you serve with your friends it doesn’t even feel like work– it’s just a great place to be and very rewarding. We can’t wait to plan another one.”

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