The ISGL Youth Group (IYG) is the brainchild of Br. Salah Issa and Br. Haroon Mohammad. Recognizing the need for a social and educational outlet for Muslim youth in the Lafayette-West Lafayette area, the two brothers set out to create an organization to provide services for our youth. After seeking advice from other successful youth organizations, conducting multiple brainstorming sessions, and much discussion, the youth group came to fruition, alhamdulillah, in February 2010.
The goal of the ISGL Youth Group is to form a network to engage Muslim male youth (ages 7 to 18) residing in Tippecanoe County (Indiana) to help the Muslim youth form an identity through:
- Community service
- Educational programs
- Religious activism
- Social interaction
To achieve this goal, the ISGL Youth Group attempts to conduct one weekly activity for youth ages 8-18 during the Fall and Spring semesters. In addition to the weekly activity, the ISGL Youth Group organizes a special one month program (called a “Halalapalooza”) for the youth during the Summer to ensure our youth remain productive citizens while school is out of session. In 2012, we conducted a pilot program for our Junior Youth or “mini-men” (ages 5-7). Activities were conducted once every two weeks during the Fall and Spring semesters. However, after reviewing feedback of the program, our mentors decided it would be best to put the Junior Youth program on hold to continue developing the program for our older youth.
We aim to provide our youth practical knowledge in matters of character building, moral development, and basic matters of faith which are based on the teachings of the Qur’an and the teachings of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. With this knowledge, we hope to help our youth develop a solid understanding of their faith and develop tools to become productive members of society.
How do we plan to achieve our goals?
In order to empower our young men to put their faith into action and become productive members of the local community, we employ a three-step strategy – nurture the heart, strengthen the body, and sharpen the mind.
Nurture the Heart– To help our youth gain a deeper appreciation and understanding of principles of their faith, we aim to educate our young men in matters of character development, ethics, creating a healthy family life, basic theology, religious practices, and dealing with relevant societal issues (for example bullying). Occasionally guest speakers are invited to provide advice and a lesson for our youth. Past speakers include Imam Muhammad Ndiaye and Imam Abdul Malik. Youth are provided the opportunity to put these teachings into action through community service projects such as:
- Purchasing and packing gifts for 5 local families in October 2012 as part of our Make-An-Eid-Wish project
- Conducting over 1500 articles of clothing in June-July 2012 to support our partners at Helping Hands USA in helping impoverished members of our global community
- Collecting 771 pounds of non-perishable food items for Food Finders Food Bank in July 2011. These food items were distributed to local food pantries and organizations to assist community members struggling to find nourishment on a daily basis.
- Preparing short oral presentations and a poster display to raise awareness on the drought and famine affecting countries in East Africa in 2011. From this event, held in October 2011, our youth were able to raise more than $5000 for the victims of the East African drought.
- Organizing a special “Parents Appreciation Night” in November 2011 to thank parents for all of their support and help through the years. This event helped highlight the special rights and status granted to parents in the Qur’an and prophetic traditions (Sunnah). Our youth were provided a forum to thank their parents by preparing and presenting a variety of creative literary pieces – short stories, open letters, poems, nasheed, and even PowerPoint presentations.
Strengthen the Body– This portion of our program educates our youth on proper habits pertaining to nutrition and physical health in order to maintain a healthy, active life-style. We encourage our youth to take part in 60 minutes of exercise or physical activity on a daily basis. Examples of past activities used to promote a healthy, active lifestyle include:
- Sports activities (soccer, kickball, dodgeball, volleyball, capture the flag)
- The Amazing Race – West Lafayette (our young men had to use a combination of mental and physical skills to complete several challenging tasks including an obstacle course, basketball skills challenge, egg hunt, and cake eating contest)
- IYG Olympics (youth competed in an assortment of mini-competitions including relay races, a football skills challenge, and a soccer tournament)
Sharpen the Mind– We aim to provide our young men knowledge that is practical and tools which they can employ throughout their life (in public school, college, in the work force, etc.). Examples of past activities which have assisted in developing important life skills include:
- Cultural cooking nights (employ their creativity to make a traditional dish from a particular region of the world)
- Building model bridges (tools related to engineering and science)
- Designing and constructing bottle rockets from a 2-liter soda bottle and various crafts provided (physics and engineering tools)
- Constructing a mini-model home (provide tools in design and construction)
- Conducting research projects on a particular subject matter and then preparing an oral/poster presentation for an audience consisting of their peers and members of the local community
We encourage you to visit this blog frequently to receive updates about upcoming activities and re-caps of previous events!