We begin the youth’s Step-It-Up-2-Thrive experience with a discussion about Sparks—those hidden strengths that are discoverable in all youth.

The Sparks exploration takes place first because research by Dr. Peter Benson, former leader at the Search Institute, tells us that inner passions, interests and talents catalyze the drive for personal growth along the road to thriving. As youth reflect about indicators of thriving and select goals, this catalytic force should stay central.

Sparks—when illuminated and nurtured—give young people joy, energy, and direction...  They have the power to change a young person's life from one of 'surviving' to 'thriving'.

—Dr. Peter Benson
Search Institute