About Youth Academy
Shree SwaminarayanTempleWillesdenAcademy first started 16 years ago on Friday, 14th November 1997. In the beginning, it was just a few hours of sports and fun to keep the attendees entertained. Sports such as football, darts, table tennis, pool, arm wrestling, carom etc. were played each week by both girls and boys aged 8 years and over.
Satsang classes were introduced once a month, along with sports. The sports sessions ran from 7.00pm-8.00pm and the Satsang classes ran from 8.00pm-9.00pm. Satsang classes increased to once a week and have continued ever since. Over the years, the academy has seen its numbers grow rapidly.
The primary reason for establishing this academy is to understand the teachings of Swaminarayan Bhagwan by using the latest, modern technology and to serve the temple.
The below will illustrate to you the amount of seva and activities that is initiated by the youth of the academy and a special section describing how two valuable members of the academy have now devoted their lives to serve Lord Swaminarayan.
Friday Academy Sabha
Our sabha takes place every Friday from 7.00pm to 9.30pm. We have one hour of sports in the wedding hall from 7.00pm to 8.00pm, where we play football, pool, table tennis and many other games. The academy members will then make their way downstairs into the temple prayer hall.
It’s 8.15pm, Friday night. We are all lined up in front of the temple sabha facing the murtis in SSTW. Very soon a short prathna of Naman Hu Karu will commence and kick start this session. Many are wondering what session will follow this evening. Some will be wondering whether it’ll be a presentation, a guest speaker or perhaps a team building exercise. Someone will be hoping there is some birthday cake to follow later!
The truth is, we like to mix things up a bit here at SSTW. The academy is not a weekly lecture on what we should and should not be doing according to our scriptures. It’s a mix of gaining knowledge, acquiring life-skills, fun learning and friend making opportunities. Sometimes, also, the occasional food fest!
With time, the youth generation has changed somewhat. Opening and reading from scriptures for 60 minutes straight is not as engaging as it may have been for the youth of the 90’s. To cater for the fast pace of change in our curious youth, we apply different mediums to teach the core principals of our original Swaminarayan Sampraday. We overlay these sessions with opportunities to enhance life and work skills. Furthermore, we hope to nurture the youth to become better humans. We want them to grow up adhering to their principles, achieving their potential and helping to administer some positive change in the world.
Whether it’s a knowledge filled presentation, delivered by the individual teams, a visit from the army, an apprentice style activity, a controversial debate, a night of sporting activities, a discussion on world hunger or a practical team building activity; you can be sure that every Friday is different.
We at SSTWAcademy thrive on getting the youth engaged and motivated not just in satsang but in their lives in general. We prefer to see our youth in temple, putting their minds to good use rather than letting it sit idle in front of the 'box' every Friday night.
The literature used which underpins the key learning, is taken from our scriptures. It is verified by saints and merged with modern know how and out of the box presentation styles to deliver to a varying audience. The groups stay in touch inside and outside temple. We try to foster an environment which provides a support structure in the form of friendship with one another. It works a treat knowing your friends are there and with whom you can share some deep thought-provoking learning as well as some banter and some footie prior to the sessions. Some of our proudest work has been well received by Bhuj santos, the temple elders and people new to the temple. Whether it’s Maharaj’s Apprentice, A Picture Speaks A Thousand Words or SSTW Kirtan’s Got Talent, we sure know how to extract all the skills our youth have to offer and present an inspiring array of brilliance.