4-H Facilitates Youth Sparks to Help Members Thrive
Youth sparks are an essential ingredient of thriving. Having a spark or sparks gives a young person a sense of direction and encourages goal setting. Sparks are different from mere leisure activity in that:
1. Sparks create actions that not only contribute to the benefit of the young person, but also society at large;
2. Sparks provide the intrinsic fuel for a young person’s growth in knowledge and skill;
3. Sparks enhance a young person’s networks as he or she encounters others with similar sparks, particularly adults with expertise who can facilitate learning and opportunities for engagement.
Furthermore, sparks appear to be a protective factor for young people, keeping them out of trouble because of the young person’s intense focus on the source of their spark Sparks, in turn, motivate youth to succeed in other areas of their lives, such as personal, social and academic.
Every young person has the potential to have a spark, and 4-H plays an important role in helping young people discover and pursue their sparks. In some cases, it is a matter of helping youth recognize their spark when the spark has already found them!
Because of its emphasis on learning that is driven by a young person’s interest, 4-H programs provide a rich context for youth to identify, explore, and sustain their personal interests, often resulting in the development of a young person’s sparks. High-quality youth program contexts, like those provided in 4-H, are key for facilitating youth sparks.
When sparks are encompassed by positive 4-H programs, youth are supported to grow and encouraged to overcome obstacles. In this way, youth are empowered to develop their sparks and to use them to make the world a better place for all.
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