Jamie, Vancouver, British Columbia

Jamie is a Visual Art and Design student at the Vancouver Film School. She plans to use the knowledge and skills she acquires there to create educational tools for children and youth.

“I chose to become a Bahá’í because the Bahá’í Faith helped me understand that I was created noble, that even though I live in a material world, I am a spiritual being, and that all of us have a natural desire to serve others.

“This natural desire has led me to serve children and youth by helping them develop a sense of moral purpose and to become conscious participants in the process of their individual growth, as well as that of their friends, families and community. Thinking back to when I was that age, very few social spaces existed to discuss spiritual things in an open way. When these things were discussed, it was always a what-my-mom-says or what-my-dad-says discussion. Many friends of mine at that age made decisions that had very undesirable consequences.

“Back then, I looked forward to spaces for youth so much because it was such a positive environment where I could ask questions and contribute to meaningful discussions; it was a place to be heard. I had that at home too but to be in a group of peers was something special. Thinking about how critical it was for me to transition through that period of life makes me want to be able to provide that space for other young people.

“Today, I have my own group of youth in our neighbourhood. We work together to develop a sense of moral purpose, take charge of our lives and contribute to meaningful social action in our communities. Many of the youth spend a good deal of time thinking about what talents they have and what it means to work hard for a noble goal and seek confirmation from God. The youth I work with have a great deal of energy and enthusiasm, which is channelled into improving their lives and the lives of others through service projects.

“I feel that it’s such a critical time in their lives, and it is things like service projects that they will remember. I always think to myself:  Do I want to look back at the end of my life and think I did nothing with my years or to remember engaging in service? Now, I look back at my high school days, and I don’t remember school projects or field trips that I went on; I remember service projects.

“I have come to grasp just how critical the transition from childhood to youth is and as a result, I have made a long-term commitment to assist youth through this transition.”