Pathways to Wellness

conversation • connection • commitment


A spark is a "special quality, skill, interest, or talent that gives us joy, energy and purpose."   It is an important part of who we are, and it is a something that is good, beautiful, enjoyed, useful and maybe even awe-inspiring. 

The Search Institute, a US organization with a 50 year history of supporting children and their families, found that the most common sparks are:

  • Creative arts - writing, music, drama, dance, photography, painting
  • Sports
  • Learning
  • Reading
  • Helping others
  • Spirituality or religion
  • Nature

Sparks are an important part of healthy development - they nurture the mind, body, heart and soul.  Sparks build confidence, social connections, sense of purpose.  Young people learn how to focus their time and energy, and learn to stick with something through difficulties, disappointments, and even failures.

Sparks provide young people with a way of spending time which doesn't involve drugs or alcohol.  Young people who have a spark are less likely to be depressed, or engage in acts of violence; they are more likely to go to school; and they are more likely to care about other people and the world around them.

In the summer of 2012, twenty-eight young people in Yukon shared their stories of sparks that grew to passions.  They talked passionately about sports and recreation, painting, dance and music, FASD prevention and climate change advocacy, and even mathematics!

As you watch these videos, listen for

  • The positive emotions that young people experience when they are pursuing their passion;
  • Their experience of being so completely engaged that they lose all sense of time;
  • The social dimension - others who share their passion, parents and other adults who supported, nurtured and recognized their passion;
  • How their passion gives them a sense of purpose;
  • The importance of setting and working towards goals; and
  • The important role that parents and other adults play in supporting their passions.

Sparks often outlast adolescence, and become life-long passions and pursuits.   Listen to two Yukoners talk about how their passions shaped their lives.  Their stories show how dogged determination and “grit”  enabled them to pursue their dreams to this day.  

Listen to the presentations Boyd Benjamin (a.k.a. The Flying Gwitch’in Fiddler) and  Kluane First Nation’s Diyet van Leishout (who found her voice in the back of a school bus) gave at the November 2013 TEDx event in Whitehorse.

Boyd Benjamin  

Diyet van Leishout

Learn more