SPARK! Events


The SPARK! Internship Experience

The SPARK! Internship Experience

            Most people who have been to SPARK! can attest to the fact that while it is a tough place to find, it is a great place to be! Which is exactly how I felt my first week on the job as the Marketing & Events intern at SPARK! for the fall of 2017. When I walked through the butterfly doors for the first time I was totally blown away. The SPARK! environment changed my entire perspective on what it means to be creative!

Over the course of the semester I spent the majority of my days at SPARK! working on a list of assignments and tasks given to me by my awesome supervisor, and the Marketing & Event Manager, Darlene Schneider. These lists always included the up-keep and updating of our social media accounts, specifically focused on Instagram. Our goal was to get to 1,200 followers by the end of the year… although, we have come a long way, we are just about 100 away from our goal- but confident we will reach it by January 1!  (Help us reach that goal and find us on Instagram @spark_dallas)

                                    

            Another substantial part of my internship was spent learning and creating on Adobe InDesign software. Keep in mind, that when I began this journey I had barely even heard of what InDesign was, so it is safe to say I was a beginner. However, now as my internship is coming to a close I can confidently say that I feel proficient in InDesign and even get excited when I get to make a new creation! I used InDesign mainly to make various marketing materials such as fliers, Facebook cover photos, banners for the SPARK! website, and signs that are used to advertise upcoming events or announcements. Additionally, I recently used InDesign to show off my new skills to my parents by designing our family Christmas card… it was a huge hit.

I think my favorite part of my job as an intern was getting to help with the launch of the SPARK! Street Team! Although, it is still being developed and expanded it was honestly the most fun I have ever had at work while still working. The Street Team consists of two people who go out on the SPARK! Segways and ride all around downtown passing out fliers and free family passes with hopes to expand reach and create awareness about SPARK! in the community. They get a lot of attention, are easy to use and so much fun! (Want to join the Street Team?! Email events@sparkdallas.org and tell them Haley sent ya!)

                            

            Lastly, I think it is important to mention the two big events that I helped with during my time at SPARK! both of which were successful and a great learning experience for me. Whimsy was the first event, it was private with more than 400 people invited to take part in a magical experience from stilt walkers, hidden Alice-in-Wonderland inspired tea parties to story tellers and live painters. During the set-up and actual event my main role as the Marketing & Event Intern was to manage and coordinate the volunteers. It was a big job, but was also great because not only was I hands-on with the activities and the physical set up of the event but I also got to be hands-on with the people. I met and spent time with a lot of the part-time staff and regular volunteers, who are amazing and an integral part of the SPARK! community. I learned so much from them and appreciated all of their help and encouragement throughout that event! (Want to be a volunteer and help with events like this one? Sign up here: http://sparkdallas.org/volunteer/)

Another awesome event during my internship was Passport to SPARK! The annual silent auction is the nonprofits biggest fundraiser. I learned a lot through this event in a different way than I learned through Whimsy. Passport to SPARK! was an in-house event and therefore, I got to have my hands on some of the marketing and promotional materials as well as helped recruit items for the silent auction- which is not as easy as it sounds! Events like that are always fun and exciting to attend but seeing the other side of it was an eye-opening and enriching experience.

I feel as if I can confidently say that I have gotten great exposure to the process and hard work that goes into event planning, preparation and execution of both big and small events. Whether it was for a silent auction or just a guest artist pop-up on the weekend, I have gotten a thorough experience and exposure of the trials… and tribulations… of events! Events are also easier when you are passionate about the people and cause you work for, which radiates from everyone at SPARK! no matter if you are a part-time weekend staff member or full-time manager. (Find out more about open positions at SPARK! here: http://sparkdallas.org/join-our-team/)

The SPARK! family has been an amazing team to work with and learn from over the past four months. I’ve made friendships and memories that will stay with me forever. I’ve had the opportunity to see how important the SPARK! mission of igniting the spark of creativity inherent in all children is and how it really can make an impact on children. The smile on a child’s face when they are at SPARK! is priceless…you will have to come in and see it for yourself!

Signing off for now!

– Haley Berling


Kevin Hurst Of Neiman Marcus Talks Student Creativity Showcase

SPARK! has partnered with Neiman Marcus and Fossil to host the Student Creativity Showcase for kids in second grade through high school. We spoke with Kevin Hurst, Director of Charitable Giving and Volunteerism at Neiman Marcus, about the importance of creativity and the benefits of participating in the Showcase.

Why is it important for kids to have ways to express their creativity?
Research shows that students who identify as creative tend to graduate at higher rates, score higher on the SAT, become more engaged civic leaders and are more creative problem solvers.  In this day and age, we all face obstacles.  Having the skill set to creatively resolve issues will provide a tremendous advantage for them as they navigate through school and their careers.

How will children benefit from participating in the Student Creativity Showcase?
This is a new and exciting opportunity for students to showcase their interests and creativity with their peers across DFW.  They are being asked to express their interpretation of creativity in a truly artistic fashion.  Normally, “the arts” are limited to one or two genres.  The Showcase has four main categories for them to submit and compete in by age group.  What I like about this is that there is room for collaboration.  One student, for example, may sing a song, another may dance, and a third may combine the singing and dancing to create a music video – imagine how cool that could be!  Of course each category and age group winner will receive an award and bragging rights.  The “Best of Show” winner has the opportunity to have an experience with a professional in their field of interest. Talk about a truly unique hands-on learning experience.  I only wish I had this opportunity at that age.

Why is creativity important at Neiman Marcus?
Among some of the Neiman Marcus core organizational values are to “be memorable”, “be bold” and “be the best.” Without creativity you are limited to the possibilities of providing the ultimate customer experience.

What do you look forward to most about the Student Creativity Showcase?
For me personally, I enjoy the visual and performing arts, so I am anxious to see those submissions.  You never know, the Showcase may discover the next creative genius and superstar. What is great about the timing of the contest is that it concludes during World Creativity and Innovation Week which includes the Creativity Confab at SPARK!  The Confab itself always has an interesting group of panelist and I always learn something new.

Besides being a sponsor, how else is Neiman Marcus involved in the Student Creativity Showcase?
Neiman Marcus has so many talented associates, so we will have key people playing a role in the judging of the submissions.


Second Annual SPARK! Halloween Spooktacular

Our second-annual SPARK! Halloween Spooktacular is back from 10am-4pm on Saturday, October 29. Tickets are $8 per person in advance or $10 at the door. (Yes, candy IS included!) Get your tickets here and check out a breakdown of the our themed games and activities:
Witch Golf
Use your magic broomstick to launch the Wiffle balls into the witches mouth.
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Monster Bowling
Roll the rubber ball towards two-liter bottles disgusted as scary creatures.
Ghostly Bean Bag Toss
Test your aim as you toss bean bags into the mouths of large jack-o-lanterns and ghosts.
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Witch Hat Ring Toss
See how many times it takes you to land a ring on the witch’s hat in our most challenging game of them all.
If You Dare
Stick your hand in boxes to feel slimy brains, eyeballs and other gross goodies. Or maybe it’s just spaghetti?
Spider Lollipops
Lollipops have never been creepier. Use pipe cleaners to make the legs and a lollipop for the body of your yummy insect.
Decorate A Trick-Or-Treat Bag
Stop by and and get creative when you decorate your own trick-or-treat bag.
Freaky Photo
Stop by our photo booth and snap pictures with dozens of Halloween-themed props.
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A big thanks to Vizient, Inc. for helping us prep for the event!

Student Installations @ SPARK!

Mallory’s Gold Award project at SPARK! is complete! We’re excited to celebrate this Girl Scout’s success. Take a look at what she learned about the creative process on her journey to its completion. For a complete project overview, see this previous blog post.

We’re so grateful for kids like Mallory, who work to make the community a better, more creative place. She is only the first of many students that SPARK! plans to work with on installations in our space. In fact, applications are currently being accepted for the Creative Installation Competition. Details are as follows.

Open to:

  • High School Students
  • College Students
  • General Public

Competition Launch – October 5th – All those interested in competing are invited to visit SPARK! from 4:30-6:30 and will be given a spec sheet on the competition with insights as to what SPARK! is seeking. The opportunity to tour the facility will be a huge asset in designing your submission. Spec sheets will be available at the SPARK! office from October 3, 2016 through October 21st . Unscheduled tours will not be offered, but SPARK! is open to the public every Saturday between 10-4 and you are welcome to use this time to scope out your installation site and brainstorm your project. (Admission fee required.)

For more information on the competition, click here, or contact Community Engagement Manager Lori Carey at lcarey@sparkdallas.org.


Catapulting Success

This summer, more than 2,800 children engaged in the creative process through SPARK! Summer Programming. In the last week of camp, children experienced iteration and collaboration by designing and building a catapult. Working in teams of two or three, campers drew out their designs on paper and brought their vision to life. As the campers were constructing and testing their designs, they iterated to improve the catapult design and increase the launch distance. When they finished their projects, we asked the campers how they utilized the creative process. See the images below for some of their responses!

School is back in session and group reservations are coming in at a rapid pace. A donation of $50 will provide materials and equipment for four children to experience SPARK! creative programming. Show your support with a donation on North Texas Giving Day, September 22. Bookmark this page: northtexasgivingday.org/npo/dallas-spark

 

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Cristo Rey Dallas College Prep Interns

Three new interns from Cristo Rey Dallas College Preparatory School have joined our team! We’ll be working with these students for the 2016-2017 school year and teaching them the ins and outs of running a non-profit organization. They will help with everything from marketing and events to programming and more. Keep reading to meet Mark, Esperanza and Imanol.

Mark Martinez, 14

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1. Tell me your favorite thing about SPARK! I like the creativity and openness to new ideas. All of the staff are easy to talk to and very welcoming.

2. What are some of your hobbies? One thing I like to do is go to Six Flags, because I seek adrenaline. Video games are another thing I do in my free time. Last but not least, I love to play baseball.

3. Tell me about your family. I live with my mom. I am also close to my sister, grandmother and grandfather. My mom and dad are from America, but their parents are both from Mexico. My great grandfather on my mom’s side is 103-years-old.

4. How are you creative? I am creative because I think outside of the box and solve problems that other people might not have figured out.

5. If you could have lunch with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be? If I could eat lunch with anyone, it would have to be Picasso. I want to know what he is like and learn to be as creative as him.

Esperanza Torrijos, 15

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1.Tell me your favorite thing about SPARK! My favorite thing about SPARK! has been the playground. Here, kids can be kids. They are able to be creative, have fun, open their minds, explore and make new friends.
2.What are some of your hobbies? My hobbies include dancing and reading. Dancing has always been my passion, specifically jazz and modern. My favorite type of books are mystery and psychology.
3. Tell me about your family. I have two older brothers and one nephew, whom I love dearly.
4. How are you creative? I’m creative by not being a follower. I always take that extra step towards being open minded with myself and others.
5. If you could have lunch with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be? The band One Direction. Because it would be an awesome experience getting to know them better and having them in the same room as me.
Imanol Rodriguez, 15
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1.Tell me your favorite thing about SPARK! The people here are very nice and they make me feel very welcome.
 
2. What are some of your hobbies? In my free time I like to play soccer with my friends, go to the mall and buy shoes and read books about psychology.
3. Tell me about your family. I have four brothers and one sister. My brothers are all younger than me and my sister is the oldest out of all of us. We all like to play soccer and other sports.
4. How are you creative? I always think of ways to create something new and better.
 
5. If you could have lunch with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be? One specific person would be my mom because I cherish every moment I get with her.

 


NTGD: Success Story #1

The countdown to North Texas Giving Day begins! We’re sharing one success story a week until September 22 to show the impact of our programming. In this story, one student from Communities in Schools shares how proud she was to see her work on display at SPARK! Every $25 donation goes towards materials to make projects like these possible. PLUS, donations of $25 or more made through the NTGD website are eligible for bonus funds and prizes from Communities Foundation of Texas!

A Successful Second Visit

In April of 2015 we celebrated World Creativity and Innovation Week and invited 24 students from Communities in Schools to experience creative immersion during the first-ever SPARK! field trip. These students practiced recycled art by designing and painting hubcaps to be installed on our wavy bridge. SPARK! opened the week of June 9 and that week, two of these students and one teacher visited SPARK! for a second time. One young lady found the hubcap she painted on her first visit hanging from our bridge and quickly showed-off her creation to her friends. She was so proud to see her hubcap displayed and to know that something she created was valued. She shared her pride and joy with SPARK! Staff, quoting: “It’s really amazing to know that a hubcap can be made into art and that my experience … could be so great.” Take a look at the young lady’s reaction.

After witnessing the uptick in this young lady’s self-definition as creative during her second visit, the Metamorphosis Project idea was sparked!

The exercise of figuring out how to decorate a hubcap will lead to deeper and stronger problem-solving skills as she matures and this boost to her self-esteem will help build her confidence. The perceived risk-taking of exploring the SPARK! environment and exercising her creativity provide positive reinforcement that she’ll apply to her next growth opportunity. Repeat visits to SPARK! will continue to build self-esteem, develop problem-solving skills and produce the types of experiences that lead to more successful academic performance and stronger career possibilities. Stay tuned for next week’s story!