Overcoming Hopelessness with Sparks of Wonder

Overcoming Hopelessness with Sparks

Presentation Slide Deck

Angela Duckworth's research shows that hope separates the gritty from those who give up. The hope she espouses rests on the expectation that our own efforts can improve our future (self-efficacy). “I have a feeling tomorrow will be better” is different from “I resolve to make tomorrow better.” The uncertainty of the world, including the environmental impacts of the Covid pandemic, the developmentally appropriate existentialism of adolescence, much less actual mental health challenges can interfere with hope development. For example, Existentialism is the searching for understanding, meaning and purpose in life.  In adolescents, this can sound like, “what’s the point,” “why bother,” or “why am I even alive.” In extreme cases, this questioning can become a “crisis”  If the crisis is not handled appropriately, an individual becomes depressed or anxious or triggers other mental health concerns. Therefore, hopelessness can come from and/or exacerbate depression / anxiety / any mental health struggle and consistently leads to suicidal ideation and attempts.  When an adolescent has no more “hope” that the pain they are in will end or that they can see no other way to help themselves suicide seems like a reasonable answer. Utilizing the DNA-V model (ACT for adolescents) this presentation/workshop will attempt to frame, explain and train attendees in practical, concrete tools around Sparks (from Peter Benson of the Search Institute) of Wonder to ignite adolescent curiosity and hope shown to have a wide range of positive outcomes in teens.

Sparks of Wonder Tool.pdf

Sparks of Wonder Tool

A tool for helping young people explore Sparks (activities and areas in which research has shown other young people felt most alive, joyful and inspired.)

Link to Search Institute a leader in positive youth development

Creating a Healthy Sense of Wonder.pdf

Creating a Healthy Sense of Wonder

Wonder involves important elements of surprise and curiosity, both of which are forms of interest. 

Ideas on how to Create Wonder at different ages and stages of development.

Awe & Wonder Articles for Continued Learning


The Science of Awe  Written by Summer Allen, Ph.D. A white paper prepared for the John Templeton Foundation by the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley September 2018 

Eight Reasons Why Awe Makes Your Life Better.pdf

Eight Reasons Why Awe Makes Your Life Better BY SUMMER ALLEN Research suggests that awe can make you happier, healthier, more humble, and more connected to the people around you. 

Four Awe-Inspiring Activities _ Greater Good.pdf

Four Awe-Inspiring Activities BY JULIANA BREINES | MARCH 8, 2016 Research-based practices for cultivating awe from the GGSC website Greater Good in Action. 

Six Surprising Benefits of Curiosity.pdf

Six Surprising Benefits of Curiosity  BY EMILY CAMPBELL For children and adults alike, curiosity has been linked with psychological, emotional, social, and even health benefits.

Additional Tools

Values Sorting Exercise.pdf

Values Sorting Tool

Strengths Tool.pdf

Strengths Finding Tool

Values Strengthening Questions.pdf

Values Strengthening Questions

BOLD Living Assessement Tool.pdf

BOLD Living Assessment Tool

Is professional help needed?  Would the Two Tents IOP be beneficial?

Speaker Bio

I’m a GenX, postmodern, question everything person who happens to be blessed with parents who took in orphans, prayed for food, answered their callings and sacrificed so their children knew they were loved.  That mix created an irreverent soul that cares deeply for children, families and especially adolescents.

I have close to thirty years of experience working with and for children, youth and families catalyzing change at the individual, family, organizational and systems levels.  With a Masters in clinical psychology, I have provided crisis management, intensive in-home therapy and wrap-around services for children with emotional and behavioral challenges.  I have 20+ years’ working or volunteering with youth and young adults through youth ministry and community programs. In partnership with North Kansas City Hospital co-created the Quarky app to connect Kansas City 14-24-year-olds to articles, events and resources focused on mental health and well-being.  Currently, I developed and direct the Two Tents Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) for adolescents struggling with anxiety/depression.  We are building strong partnerships with our area school districts and I am an invited speaker on Anxiety, Depression, Grit, SEL and Parenting. These opportunities have made me innovative, practical and taught me to think about enhancing the whole safety net surrounding at-risk children, youth and families.

I have a wonderful wife, Kori, who founded and runs the Renew Counseling Center in Olathe, a 13-year-old, Nora, twin boys (Grayson who is eight and Jude who went to heaven way too early) and have recently adopted  two foster siblings (9 & 6) Chandler and Milla into our home. 

I want to be a resource to the families that are currently in or have completed our program and don't take on individual clients. 

Jason is willing to Present, Consult, Train or just be a Resource for Parents, Schools, Churches and Teens.