NRHS youth spark inspiration in others


Courtney Jenderny never thought she'd be admired by adults, but after her speech at the Healthy Communities and Healthy Youth Conference in Minneapolis Nov. 6-8, that's exactly what happened.

Jenderny, 17, was one of four New Richmond High School seniors to present during the conference.

The presentation focused on igniting sparks -- the things youth are most passionate about.

"We were asked what our spark was, who fanned it and when we discovered it," said Brad Gartner, 18, one of the students who presented.

Gartner said his spark is helping others; Jenderny's spark is volunteering or serving the community; Danica Alverez, 17, said her spark is learning from others; Courtney Kvam's, 18, spark is mentoring.

The presentation was to a group of roughly 250 people -- most of which were adults, Alverez said.

It was pretty nerve racking to present to that many people, Gartner said.

"I thought I was going to have a nervous breakdown before," he said. "But after it just felt awesome."

Some of the presentation was interacting with the audience and asking audience members what his or her spark was.

"Our goal was to inspire the audience to ignite the sparks in their youth by finding their spark first," Alverez said.

The group didn't expect the reaction that came in the following days.

"I got so many compliments throughout the weekend," Gartner said. "People remembered our names and our stories."

For Jenderny, it's a feeling she had never experienced before.

"People wanted to shake our hands," she said. "We really impacted people."

The conference, which focused on strategic and creative ways for youth and adults to incorporate developmental assets into initiatives, youth programs, organizations, and communities, was sponsored by the Search Institute.