PUTTING ASSETS INTO ACTION: Igniting a few sparks in young people

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By The Staff

Dr. Peter Benson has written a book called “Sparks” to help parents, coaches, teachers and neighbors ignite the passion of whatever is of interest to youth.

How often do we ask them to identify what brings them joy?

This week, Los Alamos Middle School went that extra mile to find out what their teens want to learn.

It’s an easy task actually – just ask. Our teenagers are ready, willing and able to name their interests and were tickled at the thought that someone would help them learn more about an area of interest.

The idea is to elevate those areas of interest with local resources. The goal is to build on their suggestions with hands  – on activities and learning opportunities.

I often believe that we can get a lot accomplished if we could all be in the same room without an agenda.

That’s right, a free flowing dialogue with anyone who is interested in sharing ideas for the common good. This time the ideas originate with the youth and come to fruition with the help of the community.

So what is on the minds of local teens? Their interests are simple, really. They would like to know more about playing the guitar, gardening, knitting, martial arts, animals, etc.

A few minutes and some fun-sized candy bars brought the ideas from pen to paper and now the planning begins.

If you’d like to begin your own spark journey, Benson’s book can guide adults through the process of understanding their own sparks, assessing the sparks of their students and finally providing a self-assessment for teens.

The data shows that 79 percent of 10-12 year olds, 65 percent of 13- to 15-year-olds and 65 percent of ages 16- to 18-years-old, can name that spark. So what happens? How do so many of us forget the spark we could identify when we were 10 years old?

If you need a small primer on sparks, we’re trying to find out what lights the fire under today’s students to help them get through the day. For example, I love to bake.

I like to say when I retire, I’ll come up with a short list of 30 people or organizations that I like and bake for one of them each day.

At the end of my day when I just want to do that something for someone else, I bake. Do you know what the spark is for your child? Do you know what makes them tick?

What makes them happy beyond measure and do you make sure they get some of that in their lives monthly, weekly, let alone daily?

A large portion of teens claim some type of arts for their spark. If you need help with the discussion or a list of ideas, visit the Website at www.Ignitesparks.org.

They have a variety of ideas and suggestions for free downloads.

My theory is, if you can develop that passion or spark into paid work, the worst day at work will still be a great day.

It doesn’t mean everything can work into a career, but often, there are ways to incorporate your passion, hobby or love of a task into a money-making or Asset building venture.

The assistance of parents and community members will tap into the passion or sparks of our local youth and help them develop the life-long love or drive for something that brings them sheer joy.

Again, this has nothing to do with the goals parents have for their children or their future education. This is an all-out desire to spend your free time doing whatever your heart desires.

So if you have an idea of something you’d like to teach kids or information you’d like to share, give us a call and we’ll see what interests our youth would like to know more about.

On a separate note, it is with sadness that only two days before Councilor Jim West’s death, the Assets program announced a community awards ceremony. West created the Spirit of the West Award, prior to his passing. My hope was that he would attend the event in January. Now the Spirit of the West Award will have an extra special meaning for the recipient this year. The nominations are open until Dec. 15 and applications are available at www.Assets   InAction.info. If you have questions, call 661-4846 for more information.

Bernadette Lauritzen is the Assets Coordinator for Los Alamos. The program is sponsored by the Juvenile Justice Advisory Board, the Chamber of Commerce and State Farm Insurance.