4-H can help find that spark

Published 11:15 am Friday, September 1, 2023


UK-Bell County Extension

In a world full of talents, interests and qualities, everyone has a unique inner fire that gives them joy, purpose, and direction. 4-H calls these “sparks” representing passion, energy and self-identity, not just hobbies. Sparks can come from playing a guitar or advocating for social justice, starting a journey of growth and change.

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 Sparks are what motivate us to pursue our passions. They are skills, talents, interests, and unique qualities that resonate with us. The virtuoso violinist, environmentalist, and empathetic listener all have sparks that fuel their work. These inner sparks illuminate our lives and lead to self-discovery.

 4-Hers have many opportunities to explore and find their passions:

• Community Clubs: youths can join diverse projects. They find sparks by trying new things and spending time with like-minded people.

• Teens as Teachers: Older teens teach younger children their passions. This experience develops leadership and engages both parties.

• 4-H Special Interest (SPIN) Clubs: these clubs allow children to explore their passions and meet others who share them.

• After-school programs: introduces members to different interests so they can quickly explore them. This flexibility sparks curiosity and helps them find their passion.

Sparks shape lives and society, not just personal preferences.

• Driving Growth: sparks inspire people to learn and overcome obstacles. A spark may help someone overcome public speaking fears or learn new technology, building resilience.

• Driving Contribution: sparks often lead to community-beneficial actions. A musician may bring joy to nursing home residents. Social justice may lead to civic engagement, and basketball may inspire coaching younger children, creating a positive cycle.

• Building Connections: sparks foster like-minded peer connections. They connect youth enthusiasts, building support networks and camaraderie. These connections support knowledge sharing, skill development and personal growth.

• Building Protective Factors: pursuing sparks motivates academic success, healthy choices and risk-aversion. People become more self-aware and responsible, avoiding actions that could harm them or others.

• Fostering Positive Adjustment: sparks boost self-esteem, optimism, and purpose. This helps children find their place in the world, boosting their confidence and sense of belonging.

• Fostering a Thriving Orientation: sparks create a thriving orientation. Youths gain confidence, competence and character. They help their community, amplifying their sparks.

Sparks are the foundation of a happy life. They help people grow, contribute, connect and confidently navigate the world’s complexities. Society nurtures sparks to create a generation of enthusiastic, engaged and empowered youths ready to change the world.

Rachel Guidugli is agriculture extension director assistant for the UK-Bell County Extension Office.