Featured in The Trentonian

A childhood rooted untruth involved a notion that sticks and stones may break our bones but words will never hurt.

Ask any young person under siege verbally by an adult or being attacked by an adversary via electronic messaging about words.

Fortunate that words, especially offered as support and with love deliver their own positive power.

One conversation with Stacy Estelle, program director for Trenton-based Camp Fire New Jersey, discovered how powerful positive words can impact young children and teens.

Estelle oversees Future Leaders Ignited (FLI) and she is SuperFli, imbued with passion, emotion and a perfect pitch that allows her to reach a personal wavelength that connects with youth.

One can drown in Estelle’s enthusiasm as she exhibits a spiritual contact high after spending seven years with Camp Fire Executive Director Jessica Nitti and Associate Executive Kelly Nitti.

“Future Leaders Ignited encourages children to learn about their spark, what gives them purpose,” Estelle explained. “We had about 25 children for the first class and it was amazing how the older kids looked out for the younger ones. They took them under their wings. We honored three people but honestly, everyone could have been acknowledged.”

Camp Fire New Jersey highlighted efforts by teens Za’Mir Brown, Emyah Davis-Taylor, and Martique “Quay” Perry from the CYO Bromley Neighborhood Civic Center.

The non-profit organization noted that the three inspirational teens and their program coordinator, Tom Valyo, a retired Hamilton Twp. police officer, were recognized for empowering and mentoring the youth within their community.

At Camp Fire New Jersey, youth identify their sparks and spark champions.

Research shows that children who identify their spark champion are more likely to display energy and joy, recognize their life purpose and make their own unique contribution to the world.

Camp Fire New Jersey for the past 30 years has partnered with NJ School Districts to educate and empower youth through age-appropriate Pre-K through 12th grade programs in over 120 schools within and surrounding Mercer County.

Programs help youth understand the dangers of drug, alcohol and substance abuse, bullying and cyberbullying, peer pressure and unhealthy behaviors.

Camp Fire and FLI cultivate positive attitudes about self-management, self-awareness, social awareness, relationship building, positive communication, conflict resolution, empathy and issues that involve conflict resolution.

“A key component of FLI underscores that every person has something inside of them that’s valuable. It’s just finding out what that is and sparking,” Estelle noted.

Estelle acknowledged Valyo as a major advocate for children.

“And he had never been honored for his work. I mean, he treats these kids like they are his own. They love him. So, we surprised him with an award that honored him as a spark champion,” she said.

Estelle explained that many children are “up against it” with daily challenges.

“But they managed to rise above their conditions to know that they have tremendous value. They have a spark and it’s beautiful to see.”