Summer Program Uses Superheroes to SPARK Desire to be Positive Role Models

August 10, 2017

Participants of SPARK, a weeklong camp for area 12- to 16-year-old students, learned about self-expression, social media affects, teamwork and bullying. As part of the camp that took place at The University of Scranton’s Retreat Center at Chapman Lake, the campers participated in a “super” presentation on becoming good role models.

The presentation, dubbed “role models to the rescue,” involved the SPARK team leaders discussing ways to be good role models as illustrated through the behavior of superheroes. The team leaders even chose superhero monikers such as Ethantor and Sipdermanda for the presentation. The participants next went on five missions, which included deciding on positive or negative aspects of role models by moving to different sides of a field and striking either a heroic or villainous pose.

Other activities for SPARK participants included activities such as writing motivational aspects about each other on paper plates hanging on one another’s backs. The camp also included a day spent white water rafting.

Twenty-seven tudents from Scranton Preparatory School (Prep) and The University of Scranton, who volunteer as team leaders for the program that is run jointly by both Jesuit schools, also learn from the experience.

“The program is a great way for high school students to connect with older students and learn from each other,” said Anna Giannantonio, New Milford, New Jersey, a junior at the University.

 “I get a sense of gratitude that Scranton students have been part of the program and seeing the kids have fun,” said Andrew Girman, Yatesville, a junior at the University.

SPARK was founded in 2012 by Patricia Vaccaro, director of the University’s Campus Ministries Center for Service and Social Justice, and Danny Marx, a graduate of the University and Prep, who volunteered extensively as student at both schools. Marx is now a teacher at Scranton Prep. The two worked together for six years now on the program that is intended to help the children build self-confidence and acceptance of others.

“Many of the participants have attended for five years and have really grown,” Vaccaro said.

Ryan Sauter, a junior at Scranton Preparatory School, sums up the SPARK experience in just a few words: “Loud, proud and amazing in every way.”


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