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Discover Your Spark!

Based on “Sparks: How Parents Can Ignite The Hidden Strengths of Teenagers” by Dr. Peter L. Benson


Step 1: Read the section “What is a SPARK?” with your tutor.

Step 2: Watch the Video Sparks Matter: Finding Your Spark. Then, review with your tutor the section “Questions to Help You Discover Your SPARK” .

Step 3: Read the section “What To Do When You Discover Your SPARK”  with your tutor.

Step 4: After completing Steps 1,2, and 3, click the link to the SPARK Completion Form, fill out the information, and submit the form.

Tutors: To prepare for this lesson, watch Dr. Peter Benson’s TED talk. You will find his talk on the Videos Page of the Mentor Resources section of this training portal. Dr. Benson is the researcher behind the SPARK movement and his talk is very informative. This video is for you, not the student. It explains the importance of helping young people discover their SPARK(S). Click the red arrow. The video page will open in a separate browser window.

Step 1: What is a SPARK?

Directions: Read the following information with your tutor.

The Search Institute, founded by Dr. Peter Benson, has spent years researching the SPARKS of young people. This organization has developed some questions a person can ask to help uncover his or her SPARK. In Step 2 you will watch a video of young people who have discovered their spark and review the “Discover Your SPARK” questions. These questions are designed to help you discover something about yourself and your SPARK.

Before reviewing the questions, however, there is something more about one’s true SPARK that you should know, and it comes directly from Mr. Benson’s book:

“… SPARKS represent an aspect of the self that is deeper than just interests or hobbies and favorite ways of having fun or passing the time. The criterion for naming something a SPARK is a kind of natural power for unleashing energy, joy, and passion. That means SPARKS are getting at something a little deeper … something like an anchor.”

The concept of an anchor is important here. An anchor helps hold a ship in place so it doesn’t drift with the tide.

 The anchor digs into the sea bottom or catches on rocks or deep-sea formations to hold the ship in place. Research shows that young people who discover and find ways to express and use their SPARK feel more anchored to life, more positive, more creative, and more energized.

Step 2: Discovering Your SPARK


1: Watch the video: Sparks Matter: Finding Your Spark. You can watch the video in full screen mode if desired.

2: Review the Questions to Help You Discover Your SPARK” section with your tutor. Discuss each question.

Questions to Help You Discover Your SPARK

Directions: Discuss each of the questions below with your tutor. These questions are designed to get you thinking about your SPARK.

  • What makes you want to jump out up out of bed in the morning?
  • What makes you dread getting out of bed? (Sometimes talking about the things that aren’t your SPARK can give you clues about finding it.)
  • Which day is your favorite day of the week? What do you look forward to doing that day?
  • If you could spend a whole day doing anything you wanted, and money and resources were unlimited, what would you do? Why?
  • What makes you feel really happy?
  • What is your special talent?
  • What are you interested in doing (or learning)?
  • What have you done that you are most proud of? Why?
  • Who are your adult role models? Why?
  • What do you think is your purpose in life?

Step 3: What To Do When You Discover Your SPARK

Directions: Read the following information with your tutor.

Notice that the title of this step says, “What to do WHEN you discover your SPARK, not IF you discover it. This is because everyone has some type of SPARK. Often it’s a matter of discovering what one’s SPARK is. For young people, SPARKS usually fall into three categories: 

  • Something they are good at, such as a talent or skill.
  • Something they care deeply about, such as the environment, animals, helping people, or serving their community.
  • A quality they know is special, such as caring, listening, showing empathy, or being a friend.

Once you know what your SPARK is, you need to actively nurture it. Talk to your parents or another trusted adult about your SPARK. Ask for their help. Ask them to help you find a way to learn more about your SPARK. Ask for help in finding a way to get involved in a club, activity, group, team, or organization that promotes your type of SPARK. Look for any school related clubs, teams, or extracurricular activities that will help you develop or participate in your SPARK.

Research shows that engaging in your SPARK on a regular basis promotes hope and builds optimism. It produces an attitude of possibility, the belief that you are living up to your potential. It helps you realize that there are things about you that are good, beautiful, and useful. 

Before moving to Step 4, discuss your SPARK with your tutor. Be prepared to explain it in writing when you complete Step 4.

Step 4: Submit the Online Completion Form

Now that you have discovered your SPARK, click the red arrow below and submit the requested information.
After submitting the completion form, you will be redirected back to the Crossover Training Portal.

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