Who young people become and what they will do with their lives is influenced by the interests, activities, and ideas they are - or aren’t - exposed to. Read, watch, and use the resources here to help young people better explore their interests during their experience with you. Your program is a chance for them to explore potential interests, try new things, broaden their horizons, and take risks in a safe space.

Articles to read on Interest Exploration

How to Help Teens Find Purpose | Greater Good Magazine
It is hard to pin down what experiences create a sense of passion and purpose among young people. This article tell us that an important life event, serving others in a meaningful way, and changes in life circumstance are the three things that make an experience bring out passion. We like this article because it pairs research with practical use for us.

Teens' Penchant For Risk-Taking May Help Them Learn Faster | NPR
Usually, the reward-seeking and risk-taking characteristics in teenagers are not looked at as strengths. A recent study shows these behaviors could actually make teens better than adults at certain kinds of learning. We like this article because it talks about the neuroscience behind how teens learn and how we can best meet their needs. 

Sparks & Thriving | Search Institute
The Search Institute has done extensive research on why some young people thrive, while others just “get by.” Many factors play a role, but a key dimension is what they call “sparks.” This resource includes all of their key research publications from this work. We like how they always focus on relationship building and how to encourage it in intentional ways. 

Videos to watch on Interest Exploration


Peter Benson: Sparks - How Youth Thrive | TEDxTC
Every child has their own individual passions, gifts and interests, but what if they never uncover them? This 20 Minute TED talk is about how to ignite the thing in a young personals life that will give them meaning and purpose. We like this video because we see in our data over and over again that young people have unique sparks and they thrive when adults recognize and value those sparks.

Tools to use in your program to prioritize young people

Find Your Passion | Co.Design
There are questions that open young people up to express themselves and questions that close them off. This article gives you 8 questions that make for a fantastic way to get to know young people. We love how fun the questions are are and think it is perfect to use with young people.

The Road Map: Figure Out Where You’re Going | Roadtrip Nation
Young people need to see what paths are possible before they can choose the one they are interested in. Even better- they need to see successful adults who are like them on those paths. This is an interactive virtual experience where young people can can create their roadmap, and view information and videos on leaders with the same passions and roadmap. We love how interactive this is, a great activity to explore interests with young people.

Sparks Conversation Guide | Step It Up 2 Thrive
A great way to promote interest exploration is to learn who young people are and what they like, and then include that in your program. Here is a conversation guide to help you do just that- find out what young people’s sparks are. We like this resource because the work has been done for you and the guide is ready, just add water and GROW!

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