Ask a Youth Worker: When Was the Last Time You Felt Like You Made a Difference?

Youth Today asked attendees of the National Black Child Development Institute’s annual conference earlier this year about a recent time they felt they made a difference at their jobs.

Ihkeem Ma’at, president of Black Child Development Institute-DC Metro

I honestly would like to think that I make a difference on a daily basis. I mean, [BCDI] is a volunteer position … I’m actually an educator and work with the DC public school system. So, I would like to think that for those young folks that I see daily, I’m making a difference in their lives. In addition to that, I’m the executive director for the Braveheart Entrepreneurial Youth Camp, which is a youth-focused nonprofit centered on entrepreneurship, and we do programming year-round, after-school programming as well as family development.


Erick Stephens, parent engagement coordinator for Healthi Kids in Rochester, New York

Just recently, I actually sat at the Rochester City School District’s — they put a team together to help look at the discipline policy. And we helped to get recess to no longer be used as a form of discipline. Because all the data shows that that’s the wrong approach, and after a lot of meetings and a lot of data — because you have to have data to support it — we were able to get that written into the policy, effective this spring.

Eric Stevens


Faye Brown, preschool teacher for autistic children in Warren, New Jersey

Actually, it was last week when one of my autistic children, age 4, said his first word. It was “eat,” with the sign for eat.

Faye Brown

[Related: Intentional Supervision in the Development of Professional Youth Workers]


Herman Cook, retired college professor, early childhood education

I serve on the board of a child development program in DC. And so, being able to share my expertise and experiences, and things like that. To help out little ones. … So every day I try to make a difference by doing something — either learning something or sharing. I try to do some mentoring and be a father, grandfather. So, all of those things. Every step I take, hopefully, it has some influence.

Herman Cook


Tana Turner, equity, diversity and inclusion consultant from Toronto

We were doing community consultations around the experiences of African-Canadians in the child welfare system. And I think the last time [I felt I made a difference] was one of the consultations we just finished up, where the community actually felt they were able to voice their concerns and their perspectives that we were going to bring forward in a report to the decision-makers.

Tana Turner


Norman Jones, owner, Rhythm Child Network in Los Angeles

So, what I do is I go into a lot of different preschools … do rhythm and drumming. So, every time I do that, I feel like there’s a little seed planted and something that I leave behind for them to blossom in the future.

Norman Jones


More related articles:

Youth Workers Need Defined, Broad Career Paths

Global Citizens: Professional Youth-Work Exchange Around the World


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