Sparking at the Search Conference

Search Institute’s 12th annual Healthy Communities Healthy Youth conference unveiled to an international community the new research on Sparks. Those who attended Children First’s 15th anniversary celebration got a preview about Sparks from Dr. Peter Benson, president of Search Institute. Seven people from St. Louis Park attended the conference in Minneapolis earlier this month with 1200 participants from across the U.S. and 11 other countries. They were Shelly Beissel, St. Louis Park Community Education, Angela Bernhardt, Park Nicollet Foundation, Michael, Children First co-chair, Mick Johnson, Park Nicollet Foundation, Hannah, St. Louis Park High School, Moriah, St. Louis Park High School and Karen Atkinson, Children First. Here are some of their thoughts about the conference.

How would you describe Sparks?
• “A Spark is what makes a person sparkle and shine and feel alive,” said Angela.
• Shelly described it as “who you are. It’s what excites you about life,” She received this description written by a 17-year-old she met at the conference, “A Spark is a bright colorful ribbon, that shines in the light of truth and is blown in the winds of passion. This ribbon is woven, wrapped, and intertwined around the fibers of our core.”
• “Sparks are the heart behind the developmental assets,” said Karen.

What’s your Spark and who helps spark it?
• “My Spark is the kids themselves—the sparkle in their eyes, the energy, the open-mindedness, the partnership and the teamwork that I see in them,” explained Mick.
• “My Spark is getting people involved in their community and the people who help to Spark it are the kids that have a voice in the community and share their own Sparks,” said Hannah.

How do you think the Asset Champions Network can use Sparks?
• “The Network can use Sparks by sharing their own Sparks, sharing the Sparks of others, helping people find outlets for their Sparks,” Angela said.
• “Ask youth what their Spark is and then validate their Spark. Compliment youth when you see that they’re good at something- maybe this is their Spark and you see it, but the young person is not aware of it,” suggested Shelly. “It’s important to remember that your Spark can change and/or evolve throughout life.”

What was your impression of the Search conference?
• “I loved it so much! Not only did I feel inspired by finding my own Spark but I made friends too,” Hannah explained.
• “I’ve been to a few of the Search conferences over the years and I thought this one was the best ever,” said Mick.

The Asset Champions Network will be talking about Sparks at upcoming sessions.