The Chispa Program is the guiding philosophy of Valle Los Senderos in terms of our own staff development and also regarding our work with at-risk youth.

Chispa, in Spanish, means spark. A spark is the beginning of something, of an idea or a fire. The Chispa Program is learning how to learn. It is developing the character traits and perspective that allow you to problem-solve.

Jeff  Pendergraft, [your title] at Valle Los Senderos has a background in […]. Jeff explains:

“We apply the principles of the Chispa Program with our staff. The training depends on whatever situation presents itself at the moment. There is no fixed curriculum”

“One day you may be planning to share a specific technique or skill and the environment changes completely. Maybe there was a breach in the fence that surrounds our property. That changes the situation entirely. Now you are learning around handling that breach in the fence: how do you talk to the person who was trespassing?  how do you handle a stressful situation? Different personalities at different phases of life will respond differently to those situations. If you are open to knowledge and truth you will get it. You will expand your understanding. It’s a mental thing. Yes, there is a specific problem. But through that specific problem, we are learning generally. We learn to make better choices.”

“We focus on what was the best option for that situation. Maybe there’s not one correct response, but some responses are better than others. We’re trying to make the better response every time we’re put in that, or a similar, situation. We’re still learning, evaluating. Maybe that wasn’t a good idea. Maybe I myself didn’t understand, because of a cultural issue or because I wasn’t aware of something in the situation. The learning is bi-directional; I am raising their abilities and they are also helping me with skill sets with humility or other characteristics. Sometimes you don’t really know what is being elevated, what is being changed.”

Telling someone how to fix the problem resolves the present situation. Cultivating in that person the character traits and knowledge, the perspective, that allows them to see the big picture, makes them a problem solver in whatever situation.

Giving someone a place at your fire or some food that was cooked over it is a nice thing to do. Giving them the ability to generate their own spark and build their own fire is an invaluable resource. That’s what Chispa is all about.

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