A Spark Turns into Water

Posted: August 16, 2011 in Monday Morning Message
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In 1998, a 1st grader named Ryan learned from his teacher that people were dying because they didn’t have clean water to drink. This ignited a spark in Ryan’s heart and he immediately wanted to do something about it. He decided that raising money for those without access to this basic need was the right thing to do. He worked for four months doing extra chores around his house to earn his first $70. Ryan was just seven years old when his first well was built in 1999 at a school in a Ugandan village. The well continues to serve thousands of people.

Ryan’s determination grew from the $70 collected by doing simple household chores to a Foundation that today has raised millions of dollars and remains committed to bringing clean water and sanitation services to those impacted by the global water and sanitation crisis.[i]

When I first heard about this story, it sent chills down my spine because it told an amazing story of a young person discovering their spark as well as an adult community of parents, teachers and friends who supported him in living it out. We all know that a spark is something that gives a person’s life meaning and purpose, and discovering and nurturing teenagers’ sparks helps them succeed.[ii] So what are some practical steps in helping our young people discover their spark and live from a place of passion?

  1. Hang out with your young people. Quality relationships come from a quantity of time together. When you spend time with your youth, you are able to see the things that interest them and get them excited about life.
  2. Provide a broad range of interesting and diverse activities.  According to a 2007 survey done by the Search Institute, 38 percent of young people across the United States between 11 and 17 don’t know what their spark was even though 100 percent of the teens surveyed want to have one. Provide a wide variety of different activities to better allow young people to discover the things that excite them. Also, training your club leaders on how to help youth identify their spark is a key step in seeing our 4-H youth thrive.
  3. Become a partner and a cheerleader. As a young person begins to discover their spark, become their biggest fan! If you don’t have the skill or expertise in the area of their interest, connect them to people in their community who do! Not only will you be helping a young person thrive, you will increase the impact that 4-H has in your communities.

Ryan is still living from his spark today and the world is a better place for it. The opportunities that we have to train our leaders to help young people discover their spark is epic and worthy to invest in.
To watch the video about Ryan’s Well check out the following link: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-6501743967622295811


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