We’ve asked our program participants about their “sparks”: the things that excite them and that they are passionate about. We’ve had Patchwork staff and volunteers share their own sparks. We’ve led the children in different activities: stop-motion animation, ceramics, robotics, drawing, reading, and more, so that they can find new interests.
And the kids are getting the idea. A couple weeks ago, one girl announced to me, “I found my passion! It’s painting!” She was so confident and so excited to share this with me. It was the complete opposite of her usual subdued demeanor. I celebrated with her as we looked at the set of flower pots she’d painted at school that day.
The concept of “sparks” comes from the Search Institute whose research has shown that “kids who thrive have two important supports: knowledge of what their sparks are and adults who support the development of those sparks.” The research supports what we’ve done in the Arts & Smarts Program for a long time: providing a space in which children are supported and activities are partially directed by them.
With the help of Elisa Pike, Program Assistant, we’ve even created a wonderful video that highlights some of the kids’ sparks–and some other fun stuff.
Meanwhile, Paula Petersen, our long-time Program Assistant, is teaching the children another lesson in reaching for your dreams. Over the past few years, Paula has been working toward an associates’ degree in Health Care Support at Ivy Tech, and she will be graduating in May. Her degree includes a certification in phlebotomy, and we’re excited that she’s already been hired by Deaconess. We’ll miss her work in the Arts & Smarts Program, but wish her well as she moves into the next stage of her career.
We’ve also had a reminder that even with all the support and care and protective factors that we try to provide in children’s lives, it is sometimes not enough. This week Jane and I sat in on part of a murder trial that involves two past children’s program participants.
Even when the lives of our Arts & Smarts participants don’t turn out the way that anyone hoped they would, I hope that these adults feel what others have expressed to me: That while there might have been a lot happening at home or at school, they always knew that Patchwork was a place where they’d find people who cared about them and that that mattered.