The Arts & Smarts children’s program has been back in session for almost a month now. In that time, Kids have been working with their tutors to complete their homework and to build academic skills. Youth in grades 5-8 have been working to build their leadership skills in order to be good role models for the younger participants. Kids have been creating watercolor paintings, fabric badges inspired by peace flags, and artful snacks.
Yesterday they met some international students studying at the University of Southern Indiana. At the beginning of the day, Jane Vickers told one girl, “People from around the world are coming to meet you today.”
The girl’s eyes lit up. “That’s cool!” she said.
Another lesson has been about Sparks. The concept of “sparks” was developed by researchers at the Search Institute. A spark is anything that someone is excited or passionate about. A spark could be something like cooking, painting, basketball, math, or helping animals. Studies show that youth are more likely to succeed in life when they have identified at least one spark, when they have adults who support that spark, and when they see how that spark can help other people.
Several Arts & Smarts staff and volunteers have shared their sparks to help the kids start thinking about what their own sparks might be. In response, one boy eagerly caught up with Jane last week to ask, “When can I share my spark?”
“We’ll have to put it on the calendar,” Jane replied. But, as often happens to us all, Jane forgot to get the calendar out at the end of the day.
The next day, the boy was back. “When can I share my spark?” he asked eagerly.
“Remind me at the end of the day and I’ll get out the calendar,” she said again, expecting he might or might not be back.
At the end of the day, the boy approached Jane. This time he was more direct, patiently requesting, “Get out your calendar.”
Jane did and was impressed at how much he had already thought about his spark. He’s new this year, so this is a new concept for him. Yet, here he was with a fully formed presentation in mind. His spark is basketball and he would like to do some trick dribbling for the group. On his first day in the Arts & Smarts program he made a new friend who admitted he isn’t as good at basketball. So the boy envisions teaching the group some of his tricks so they can all get better, too.
This is exactly the kind of spark and leadership that we want to encourage all year long!
Notes from 40 Years at Patchwork:
“There were more than 60 persons who gave over 6000 hours of voluntary service to the work of Patchwork Central in 1987….Persons who have been a part of the whole are a delightful mixture. Members of the community may run a program, lead worship, do an odd job around the building. A volunteer could be the 82 year old woman who works regularly in the Food Pantry or the 13 year old girl who helps in the office after school. Students from the university have helped with the Children’s Program; neighborhood residents will work with children in the summer program. Some people volunteer for a specific event, others help on a regular basis.
The whole we create together is not a static, finished piece. We make the whole new each day. We build it through individual creativity, in the interaction between people, through involvement with specific activities, and in the relationships with children and neighborhood residents. Many of the people who volunteer count their experience as a blessing to them. For the Patchwork community, these volunteers are a blessing to us.”
~Judi Jacobson, Stitches newsletter, July 1988.