It’s not enough to just know your spark. You have to grow it! And that’s where spark champions come in.


Spark Champions are adults who help young people develop the interests, skills, commitments or qualities that give lives purpose and meaning. Spark Campions are the key to true thriving: Research shows the big benefits of identifying your sparks only kick in when paired with adult support. Unfortunately, research says only 37 percent of teenagers say they both know their spark and have adult help to nurture it.

Want to help bridge that gap? It’s easier than you might think. The main thing adults can do to encourage kids’ sparks is to just ask. Studies show the majority of students aren’t being asked about their passions at school, and less than a fifth of teenagers report strong relationships with adults outside of their family members. Making an intentional effort to build relationships and talk about sparks with the young people in your life can make a huge difference.

Need suggestions on how to start? Try these questions, adapted from work by the Search Institute and the Thrive Foundation for Youth. This might be the perfect dinnertime conversation:

  • What are your sparks?
  • When did you first find out ______ was your spark?
  • How does your spark make you feel?
  • How do you live your spark?
  • What could help develop your spark?
  • Who knows about your spark?
  • Who is helping nurture your spark?
  • What are some of your goals for your spark?
  • Is anything getting in the way of you pursuing your spark?
  • How can I help?

Beyond regularly talking about sparks, you can also take simple, practical steps to help kids develop their passions.

  • Be present: Attend events where the kids in your life are showing off their sparks (games, concerts, art shows, etc)
  • Offer new sparks opportunities: Take a kid to a museum, sign a teen up for a class, etc)
  • Break down barriers: Help kids brainstorm ways to overcome obstacles
  • Catalog your own sparks, then offer to mentor young people who share your interests
  • Encourage your friends to do the same


Want to help the young people in Central Oregon discover their passions? Come volunteer with us!


Sources: “Peer Interview: Explore Your Spark,” Thrive Foundation for Youth, July 28, 2011. Accessed December 14, 2018.

Sparks: Building Deep & Sustained Relationships with Young People.” The Search Institute. Boost Conference, 2012. Accessed December 14, 2018.


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