We had the good fortune of connecting with Helice “Grandma Sparky” Bridges and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Helice “Grandma Sparky”, can you tell us about an impactful book you’ve read and why you liked it or what impact it had on you?
In a minute or less, the Who I Am Makes A Difference Blue Ribbon Acknowledgment System® gives youth and adults pride, purpose, and the ability to end negativity and transform the world. It helps youth and adults turn the tide away from violent and disrespectful acts replacing them with understanding and inspiration, uniting people to live into their passion and purpose. The Blue Ribbon message has impacted 50 million people in the world and translated into 12 different languages. The Blue Ribbon Movie, based on a true story, remained #1 on YouTube for 10 weeks in the nonprofit category.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
In 1980 as co-chair of the San Diego Hunger project I discovered that people were literally starving for recognition rather than food. To fill this need I purchased 1000 buttons that I had inscribed with the words Who I Am Makes A Difference – My Hunger Project Game. I started honoring people with this button, and it caught on and other people started to do the same, so that 1000 people were honored! The button evolved into the 7-step Who I Am Makes A Difference Blue Ribbon Acknowledgement ceremony that gave people a simple one minute way to express appreciation, respect, and love and empower each other’s dreams. In the first three months, 35,000 people were honored, and literally everybody wanted to receive a Blue Ribbon. People were so hungry for love, wherever I went someone would approach me needing to be honored, it was overwhelming and scared me. At that moment it was both a triumph and challenge, my picture was on the cover of local magazines but my self-esteem was still low and I didn’t know what was happening…there was such a need and demand for love and I still didn’t know how to fulfill it in myself or anybody else. This was 1982 when social and emotional learning was not even a concept. The Blue Ribbon ceremony was personal, intimate, and uplifting. It connected people heart to heart and ignited their human spirit. Some superintendents and principals believed in what I was doing and wanted to bring our program to thier schools but teachers found it too emotional and not academic, rejecting it outright. Principals told me “teachers are mutinying against the Blue Ribbon.” Everybody thought it “touchy feely”. The thing that happened is the Blue Ribbon ceremony itself was acknowledged by global leaders and as result I was invited to the Soviet Union to be a delegate to the first USA/USSR Youth Summit on Global Peace held in Moscow, to key note at the Environmental Earth Summit in Rio De Janeiro following the Dalai Lama and Vice President Al Gore, and train rival gang members following the LA riots. The lessons I have learned to bring in a new vision are it takes strength, courage, and to never, never, never give up. Today in our divided States of America and the world, now more than ever, people are desperate to feel connected, respected, and loved. This is an idea who’s time has come and the Blue Ribbon fulfills on this mission for this generation and all generations to come.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
The first thing i would do is take them to Ki’s restaurant in Cardiff-By the Sea and have a delicious healthy and casual lunch overlooking the ocean. Then I would walk across the street and put our feet in the sand and walk along the shore watching the dolphins swim by and the seagulls explore! Then to Moonlight beach to listen to a concert in the evening. I would take them the next day to Balboa Park to explore all the museums and sights and then to eat at a yummy restaurant in Hillcrest! I would then take them to Sea World and the cable ride to see all of the park. The next day to Pacific Beach for the roller coaster and rent roller blades and skate down the strand and eat at one of the funky nearby restaurants! If they want Italian I would take them to Little Italy in DTSD. And the last day I would take them to beautiful La Jolla and walk on the cove and window shop.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Let’s start with love and encouragement: the first people I must acknowledge are my parents, without their love encouragement telling me “go for your dreams I believe in you.” I wouldn’t be who I am. Support & Efforts: this is tricky because there are millions of people who have supported me…and also what comes to mind are all the personal development courses I took and the people who took them with me, the ones that impacted me the most are; est, Landmark Training, PSI Seminars, Money & You, and Technologies For Creating Mentors: Jack Canfield, Susie Carder, Dame Doria Cordova, Bobbi DePorter Books: Unconditional Life by Deepak Chopra, MD, The Soul of Money by Lynne Twist, Quantum Success by Bobbi DePorter, Mother Teresa Come Be My Light the Private Writing of the Saint of Calcutta, Power Your Profits by Susie Carder, and my published stories in the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” book series were important to support of the Blue Ribbon mission. And every day my board of directors, advisors, sponsors, supporters, and our Blue Ribbon Youth and Adult Ambassadors support me in us honoring 1 billion people in 2020 come true!
Ann Landstrom Photography for picture with blue frame and Blue Ribbon