These fire-colored mini-brochures are a nifty tool to engage teens in discovering their own “spark” – personal passions, talents or interests that lead to their purpose in life. The concept comes from the book Sparks: How Parents Can Help Ignite the Hidden Strengths of Teenagers by Peter L. Benson, the CEO of Search Institute. According to Youth Today’s review (December/January 2009), although 70 percent of surveyed adolescents identified sparks such as music, sports or helping others, 30 percent don’t know their sparks. Benson’s book shows adults – from parents to “spark champions” such as coaches, neighbors and youth workers – how to help teens discover and nurture their sparks.
Spark Catchers get youth started. As they open the 4-by-2-inch brochure, each page asks questions such as “How do you pursue your passion?” A few suggestions appear, from singing to sailing. When the paper is unfolded to an 8-by-8-inch square, these words form a ring around a globe in the center: “You have something that is good, beautiful, & useful to the world. Everyone has a spark. What’s yours?” Spark suggestions such as “making people laugh” radiate out to each edge. After folding the paper along dotted lines, teens peek under the flaps of the peaked shape to find sparks. A video at http://www.search-institute.org/sparkcatcher shows how to fold the Spark Catcher, available in packs of 20. This fun activity also sparks discussion.