SPARK! Blog


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!

 

 


Shoes & Stories

Wondering what our second annual Shoes & Stories event on August 14th is all about? Susan, who attended the inaugural event, shares what it was like to do a storytelling and sneaker decorating activity with her daughter.

What was the most memorable part about Shoes & Stories?

Watching my daughter and her friend figure out their “story” and then try to depict it on their shoes.

What was your daughter’s favorite part about the event?

>She loved the chance to be creative and decorate her shoes to reflect who she is… she also LOVED running around and playing at SPARK!

What did your daughter draw on her shoes and what was her inspiration?

She ended up just making an abstract design of her favorite colors and she LOVED them!

Were you surprised at all by her creation?

No, she is very creative and artistic and they ended up being a great representation of her.

Did the event bring you and your daughter closer?

I always think a unique experience that creates memories brings you closer.

Did you find it extra special that it was an all-girls event?

I think it was good that it was all-girls because I think it made it easier for them to be creative.

Would you recommend Shoes & Stories to your friends and why?

Absolutely! It is a fun, unique event that allows you to spend quality time with your child and create memories!

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Don’t miss out on this (girls only) creative experience for you and your daughter, niece or granddaughter! Tickets are $15 if you bring your own shoes; $25 if we supply them. Register here: sparkdallas.org/event/shoes-and-stories-2


Girl Scout Gold Award At SPARK!

Sixteen-year-old Mallory Rasco is working towards earning the highest achievement in Girl Scouts: the Gold Award. This seven-step project aims to impact the community in a big way. Lucky for us, Mallory has chosen to make an impact on SPARK! We can’t wait any longer to share her plans for a permanent installation in our creative environment. Read on to learn how she is transforming one long, dark tunnel into an out-of-this-world adventure.

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What was your source of inspiration for this project?

At the beginning, I was mainly thinking of big environments that would be interesting for kids to explore. That was when I initially thought of space, but then when I started thinking of cool details and activities to be in the tunnel, I used more of my personal knowledge. I’ve always enjoyed star gazing and Astronomy. I went to a weeklong Girl Scout Camp where I studied the stars, and I enjoyed myself immensely. I used all that I’ve learned to make the tunnel interesting and exciting for people to explore. So in total, my inspiration drew from my personal experience with studying the field and what I have enjoyed from my adventures.

What are some exciting elements of the project that we can expect to see?

Throughout the tunnel, it will look like a spaceship. There will be a control panel where kids can feel like they’re flying through space. I’m excited for this because I have been able to acquire actual pilot seats from Southwest Airlines to use for my project, so it will feel more genuine. And, at the end of the tunnel, I’ve designed it so it will look like the kids are floating in outer space, with constellations and stars and planets. Everything in there will be for kids to play with and enjoy themselves.

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From start to finish, how long do you expect to be working on this project?

I really started moving on this project at the beginning of June when I started thinking of the details in the tunnel. I am hoping to be done with most of the construction by the end of July. Then, I will finish up any last details and work on the paperwork for the Girl Scout Council in the first half of August, right before school starts. So, the entire project will last about two and a half months, basically all of summer.

What does earning the Gold Award mean to you?

Earning the Girl Scout Gold Award means the world to me. I have been a Girl Scout for eleven years, and everything has led up to this. I have already earned my Bronze and Silver Awards; to receive the Gold and finish the journey would give me the most amazing feeling. I will feel so satisfied with all the work I have done and the difference I can make for the kids.

Tell me why you chose to do your project at SPARK!

The first time I came to SPARK! I learned all about their message and goal. This is what told me that I needed to do my project here. I love everything that SPARK! promotes such as creativity and confidence. All of this is so important for children to hear, so that when they grow up, they can make a change in the world that we need.

How do you think this project will impact the community?

I hope that my project will impact children most of all. I want them to see how I brought something from my imagination to real life. I hope it will inspire higher confidence in themselves and their decisions when they design something or think of a different way to complete a task. It will teach them that if they work hard enough they can accomplish anything.

If you’d like to donate supplies to help Mallory with her project, check out her list of needs here.


Success Story: Camellia Gets Creative With Clay

At SPARK! we measure the success of a student’s visit in two ways:

  1. Did we help increase their self-definition as a creative individual?
  2. Did they begin to understand and use the creative process as we define it? (Inspiration with Iteration and Collaboration leads to Innovation.)

During her second consecutive week in our summer camp program, Camellia (or Cam), took another shot at sculpting. We are so thrilled to hear about her new understanding of creativity because of it. Here’s her story.

Name: Camellia

Age: 13

What school do you go to? J.L. Long Middle School

What sort of creative activities do you do at school? I’m not in art class anymore. The only creative thing I do is doodle on the sides of my papers.

Do you wish there were more opportunities to be creative at school? Yes. I’d like to work more with clay since I don’t buy it and I don’t have a kiln or any tools.Summer-Camp-Success-Story2

Tell me about your experience with sculpting clay at SPARK! for a second time this week. I did a wolf head. Ms. Raines gave me tools that helped me make the fur. I didn’t know I had to hollow things out. I like sculpting now because it is satisfying to do whatever you want with it and see at the end how beautiful it is. Clay is fun to use because it’s squishy.

Do you think it’s important to try things twice? Yes. I went all out the second time and did something I wanted to do instead. I finished in two days. It took some patience.

Did you improve? Yes.

How did you use iteration during your second sculpting experience? When I was doing the snout I noticed it was too long so I had to cut off different parts to see if it looked normal. The ears were hard because I had to put the back of them on first and then the curving inside. One ear looked kind of weird. I didn’t know if I should leave a part of it missing. I eventually made it look like it was cut off a little bit half way down. I definitely had a problem with the eyes. I couldn’t figure out how to do it with them open so I decided to do it with them closed. For the mouth, I just did lines to signify where it was. I wanted jowls to look more obvious so I had to add more clay to it.

Summer-Camp-Success-Story1Are you proud of yourself after seeing the final product? Yes. It looks better than what I thought it would. It does at least look like some sort of dog. Not a cat or anything. The fur actually looks like fur not just clay and triangles. It looks like a wolf.

Did you consider yourself creative before you came to SPARK! for camp? Yes.

At SPARK! we try to help kids understand that creativity isn’t just fine arts. Do you feel like you have a better sense of that now? I still identify creativity with art but now I see how it can relate to other things such as writing, ideas and stories.

What’s the most important thing about being creative? The most important thing is being able to do what you want. Putting whatever you think of onto paper.


Mayor’s Intern Fellows Program

After completing 35 hours of workforce readiness training, two participants of the Mayor’s Intern Fellows Program have joined our staff for the summer. According to their website, the program aims to “introduce exemplary Dallas high school students to future careers, professional employment opportunities and valuable workplace skills while providing area companies, nonprofits and government entities a meaningful way to make an investment in the youth of Dallas and its future workforce.”

Each student is assigned an intern advisor through the program and is responsible for journaling about their experiences as well as completing numerous assignments throughout the summer. SPARK! is thrilled to participate in this program for the second year. Meet our two awesome interns Angie Gonzalez and Morgan Jones!

Angie Gonzalez, 16

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I am an amateur artist with a passion for monochrome paintings and have been studying art for five years. I plan to finish high school and attend Art Institute, to further my education in art studies and design. I then plan to teach high school art, while working on my reputation as a freelance artist. I love to teach and believe the best way to learn is through the creative process.

Morgan Jones, 16

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I attend W.W. Samuell Early College High School, and am on track to graduate high school with my Associates Degree in Applied Sciences from Eastfield College. After high school, I plan to attend Grambling State University for Sociology, then move on to Rice University do get a Masters Degree in Business Accounting.

I selected SPARK! for my summer internship because I have always liked arts and crafts, as well as doing my own creative things over the year. I also wanted to have the opportunity to get kids who weren’t already interested in the arts, and let them experience the importance of creativity firsthand. I share my passion of art through scrapbooking, and also taking and collecting polaroid pictures. 


Artist Spotlight: Lynn Raines

We’re so excited to welcome the newest member of the SPARK! team: Lynn Raines. After working as a SPARK! instructor for more than a year, Lynn started full-time this month to lead our summer camp programs.

Read on to learn how she’s taking charge of all creative curriculum and how she’s already used her own creativity to leave a mark on SPARK!

How’s it feel to be on board?

From the first day I peeked through the doors of SPARK! I was hooked. As an artist and a teacher, I am very excited about my full-time position as Programs Director AKA “Creative Guru.” My head is bursting with ideas of how to get kids experimenting with different materials and investigating new ideas at SPARK! and then taking those ideas home with them. I see SPARK! as a place for kids to become inspired and have opportunities to express their creativity though a variety of artistic adventures.

Describe what it’s like to work for SPARK!

It’s playful, inspiring and exciting. As a former art teacher I have experience coming up with ideas that engage and inspire kids. But at SPARK! I get to also teach the creative process – which is really rewarding. Once children start using the creative process they begin to understand how inventive they really are. I’ve watched their self-esteems rise as they see what they’re truly capable of. Not to mention that I get to see my own creations become a part of SPARK! That’s a major bonus for a practicing artist as myself!
Tell me about your latest installation at SPARK!
I was asked to come up with ways to incorporate a car wash into the Climb, Crawl, Slide Sculpture. I researched, went through few a car washes and eventually ended up at a scrap yard taking apart an ’86 Jaguar. The front end of the car can now be seen while exploring our space. I’m looking forward to adding more detail to the carwash installation including a stoplight and bubbles. I can’t wait to incorporate more interactive art pieces like this one into the SPARK! space.
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Samsung Gives

Samsung-Volunteers

Last week, 20 Samsung Volunteers chose to spend their community service day at SPARK! They spent more than four hours cleaning, setting up for events and adding to our creative environment.

Volunteering as a group at SPARK! is a great way to offer support, but it also helps employees get to know each other by working together, outside of the office.

SPARK! has also hosted corporate volunteers from Mercedes-Benz, VHA, Fossil and Neiman Marcus. Activities can range from decorating for themed events to testing new programming activities.

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Send an email to volunteers@sparkdallas.org if you’re interested in hosting a corporate volunteer day at SPARK! Learn about additional volunteer opportunities here.


Dallas Art Fair Partners with SPARK!

In April, over 100 high school students experienced total creative immersion and engaged in an in-depth creative project at SPARK! To kick off World Creativity and Innovation Week, SPARK! partnered with the Dallas Art Fair & Neiman Marcus to execute the Slot Art Collaboration Project, leading these students through the creative process and guiding them in the discovery of their unique creative abilities.

For this project, the high schoolers were asked to illustrate an answer to the question: “What inspires you?” The result was a collaborative sculpture connecting each student’s individual creation. The inspirations depicted by the students are proof of their creative minds coming to life while immersed in the SPARK! environment. “Dallas is fortunate to have SPARK!” said Autumn Hill, Learning Coordinator at Dallas Contemporary. “It was delightful to see so many smiles and such unrestrained creativity coming from our student group – a combination that I greatly attribute to this welcoming facility and its warm staff.”

A huge THANK YOU to the Dallas Art Fair and Neiman Marcus for making this possible! Come see the sculpture for yourself when you visit SPARK! this summer. Starting June 4, we’ll be open every Saturday from 10am – 4pm! In the meantime, check out these pictures of their inspiring creations!

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