This time of year my family and I can be found driving around various neighborhoods oohing and ahhing at the Christmas light displays. Whether large or small, colored or white, the lights spark joy in my kids and remind me of the simple pleasures and hopes of youthful innocence. It's the same feeling that led us to Start 1 Spark as our organization’s name; to capture that hope the lights bring to our kids' eyes.
Just like a campfire, the light within our youth requires nurturing, assistance, and careful oversight. Recently, the John Rolfe Middle School Fine Arts Department presented their holiday concert with dance, choral, and instrumental performances. Throughout the concert, students repeated the department’s affirmations. The series of sayings displayed how the music department is building confidence in our youth. It is through extracurricular activities that we can nurture the light inside each of our students.
Similarly, each snack kit delivered to a student athlete contains an uplifting message to keep the light aglow. I’m always amazed and touched by the messages our volunteers include - colorful pictures and cheers from fellow students, quotes from famous athletes and coaches, and personal reflections on what sports gave our volunteers. Coaches have shared how positively the students react to these messages knowing that someone cared enough to write a note. It is a heartwarming example of how a short message can rekindle hope.
A student’s inner light is fanned by numerous positive and negative forces, both internal and external. The violence occurring amongst our youth is what happens when their light is extinguished, when their hope is gone. However, when the community of parents, teachers, neighbors, coaches, and even strangers surrounding the student continuously monitor and carefully maintain the light within them, our youth shine brightest. This holiday season and throughout 2023, I hope you’ll join us in watching over and building the light within our community’s youth. It just takes one spark to start a light