Shaping the Future

Students help youth through spiritual empowerment program

Stanford has been described in the past as a bubble, implying that students often live in isolation from the rest of the world because the campus is a self-sufficient beacon of ideal college life.

However, a look at Stanford’s own student-run Junior Youth Spiritual Empowerment Program (JYSEP) goes a little ways toward discrediting that stereotype.

Started as a program to encourage and assist junior youth to take ownership for their spiritual and intellectual development, JYSEP encourages young adults (aged between 10 and 15 years) in Stanford’s neighboring schools to “develop a strong sense of purpose and the volition needed to make good decisions and to engage in meaningful social action in their communities,” according to the program’s Facebook group.

The program is organized around the idea of a junior youth group — a peer group of about a dozen teens — that meets together regularly and is based on the principle of group learning. The program has members from Stanford’s undergraduate community, as well as support from schools in the Palo Alto area.

{josquote}...the program aims to educate the students to “learn how to think, but not what to think.”{/josquote}

According to Jasmine Nachtigall ‘12, the program’s mission statement is simply to help junior youth harness their spiritual and intellectual development and use it to drive decisions.

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