Community Building Activities
Children's Classes (5-11 years)
Children are the most precious resource a community has. Much like a young tree, children will grow and develop in whatever way they are trained and according to the influences they experience. Moral and values-based training for children are essential in order to nurture their capacities. Subsequently in Camberwell we hold classes for children of all backgrounds, beliefs, ethnicity or nationality. By talking through the questions that children face in their lives, the classes help them to apply spiritual principles – such as love, unity and forgiveness – to their own lives and to lives of their families and their friends. The aim is to build a strong moral framework that will assist children to achieve excellence in material, intellectual, health and moralistic aspects of life, whilst complementing the education they receive at school.
“Regard man as a mine rich in gems of inestimable value. Education can, alone, cause it to reveal its treasures, and enable mankind to benefit therefrom.” In accordance with that inspiration we are working to bring forth these “treasures”—the nobility and beauty that are part of every person’s inborn nature. The classes encourage children to recognise their own nobility and the inherent nobility of their friends.
The Camberwell community places great emphasis on the moral education of children, with a focus on providing on-going opportunities for developing a sense of world citizenship and a lifelong commitment to serve humanity. Each session includes short lessons, activities to build social skills and friendships, games, stories, art and music. These classes are intended to nurture morally vibrant and healthy young people who will grow up without prejudice and with a positive, powerful sense that we all have a role to play in helping Camberwell and thus the world to become a better place.
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Junior Youth Groups (12-15 years)
Adolescents face a range of challenges and this period represent a special time in their life, for it is during these years they leave childhood behind and undergo profound change. The aim is to engaging junior youth in programmes that seek to enhance their capacities and prepare them for their future. Young people should actively contribute to decision-making processes, and understand that their efforts will exercise greater influence when informed by the experiences and successes of others. In this way, they seek to maximize the effect of their efforts to serve humanity by placing their creativity to making positive contribution based on moral and intellectual framework. These groups are open to everyone from every background.
This community initiative is able to provide encouragement to its young members by giving them real responsibility for its affairs and imparting a profound sense of ownership of shared goals. Each person listens to and learns from others: there is a tangible sense of moving forward together. The motivating impulse is one of love for humanity. Consequently, we also place great emphasis on the spiritual education of youth – such as truthfulness, love, unity, cooperation, service to humanity, striving for excellence – with a focus on providing on-going opportunities for developing a sense of world citizenship and a lifelong commitment to serve humanity.
Junior youth groups, facilitated by trained “animators”, help them to develop their latent capabilities and contribute in meaningful ways. The groups engage in learning, socialising, arts, culture, sports and recreation and service activities. Attention is given to enhancing their powers of expression, recognising the moral issues underlying everyday decisions and the moral implications of their speech and actions, recognising their talents and qualities, developing friendships, withstanding negative peer pressure, and building unity and service in the local community. By developing their spiritual qualities, their moral perception and character, as well as their intellectual capabilities and their ability to serve society, these junior youth, as agents of change, can be part of something special and help create a positive difference to make the Camberwell community a vibrant and safe neighbourhood.
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Become an Animator
What is an animator?
Junior youth groups are guided by one to two facilitators, or “animators” – trained individuals, who are convinced of, and passionate about, the capacities of junior youth, and what they have to offer this world on its journey towards material and spiritual excellence. “Animar” in Spanish means to “encourage” and thus, animators do not dictate the course of action taken by the group, but rather help to develop a unity of vision about the purpose of junior youth groups, and then serve as navigators for the youth as they figure out their path toward understanding the world, themselves, service, and life itself.
For youth (17+ years) who want to become animators there is a free training programme and as this is a special path of service it requires faith, patience and tenacity. In this connection, the benefit of walking that path in the company of others is immense. Loving fellowship, mutual encouragement, and willingness to learn together are natural properties of the training programme, and should also characterise those essential relationships that bind together the components of our neighbourhood and community.
What does a Junior Youth Group look like?
Youth Groups (16-30+ years)
Youth are a dynamic force for social change. Yet, in an age consumed by self-interest the crises affecting all of society always have a particularly devastating impact on its youngest members who are still in the process of forming the attitudes that will guide their lives. At this turning point in history, when so much of society invites passivity and apathy or, worse still, encourages behaviour harmful to oneself and others, a noticeable contrast is offered by those who see difficulties in society as a stimulus to action, an opportunity to create unity where disunity exists.
Not surprisingly, youth are gaining the most experience at aiding junior youth, and children too, with their moral and spiritual development – that is, fostering in them capacity for cooperation, collective service, striving for excellence and true friendship. After all, aware of the world which these young souls will need to navigate, with its pitfalls and also its opportunities, youth readily appreciate the importance of strengthening and preparation. Youth are, therefore, galvanised to assist those younger than themselves to refine their characters and prepare to assume responsibility for the well-being of their communities. As they enter adolescence, youth are helping them to enhance their power of expression, as well as enabling a strong moral sensibility to take root within them. In so doing, youth’s own sense of purpose becomes more clearly defined.
The habits of mind and spirit that youth are nurturing in themselves and others will endure, influencing decisions of consequence that relate to marriage, family, study, work, and life itself. Consciousness of this broad context helps to shatter the distorting looking glass in which everyday tests, difficulties, setbacks, and misunderstandings can seem insurmountable. Youth are extolled as possessing a spirit of adventure and enterprise, eagerness, optimism, vigour, and vitality. They are encouraged to channel these qualities into lives of service shining as lights of hope in their community.
This programme calls youth in Camberwell to volunteer and help with its community building initiatives. It offers them a charter and hope for the future, an opportunity to become "a new kind of people, people who are upright, kind, intelligent, truthful, and honest." "Undoubtedly, it is within your power to contribute significantly to shaping the societies of the coming century; youth can move the world."
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Inspiration, rejuvenation, motivation, purpose, meaning – all are essential ingredients to one's sense that his or her life is on track, is purposeful. Yet, day to day, one is hard-pressed to find or feel them and is challenged to maintain a positive and holistic outlook. The process of one’s individual development and fulfilment is tied to the centring of one’s energies on the betterment of humankind. By learning about our reality and our individual role in the progress of society, we can better understand our purpose in life and the way to improve our own lives and the lives of those around us.
Adult gather in homes, neighbourhoods or community centres and come together for prayers or stimulating and uplifting conversations to shed light on what matters most. They take many forms. Some are spontaneous, others are carefully planned. Some are energetic and exuberant, others are quiet and reflective. The element that unites them all is a spirit of reverence and respect for each other. Music, drama, arts and craft, refreshments, and meaningful discussions are often present, although the primary purpose is to have a spiritual focus to transform, unify, and revitalise ourselves and our neighbourhood community.
Participants are able to share and consult on spiritual principles – such as collaboration, unity in diversity, meaning of life, forgiveness, family values – and to gain some perspective on how these principles can be applied to their day-to-day affairs. These gatherings stimulate a sense of self-awareness and create stronger, deeper bonds in our neighbourhoods and amongst our friends and family. For many, these events become a refreshing refuge from the discordant and grinding aspects of everyday life. A spirit of unity and fellowship emerges from these gatherings. By giving time to the spiritual side of our existence, we see our daily lives in a different perspective. Challenges that defeated us in the past may seem less daunting. The ability to have inner strength and serve other people may grow.
Individuals from all walks of life and background come together to learn to act more effectively towards the betterment of humankind and serving the needs of the local community and the larger society. To learn how to competently express one’s views, and to engage oneself in serving the broader needs of society for unity, justice, and equality. The participants often experience a new sense of direction in life, better relationships with family and friends, and a fruitful re-evaluation of the contribution one can make to the advancement Camberwell community.