I have known Assiatou since before she was old enough to walk. As toddlers she and her twin brother were always trying to slide into the group at the youth center. They didn’t realize that still wearing diapers was a giveaway that they weren’t old enough to attend yet! Once Assiatou was old enough and started coming to SSYC she has continually impressed me by her intelligence and energy.
As I’ve gotten to know her, I’ve noticed that she blossoms under positive reinforcement. Sometimes she arrives at the center and feels angry or upset, but has gotten very good at checking in with staff to get the support she needs so that we can quickly have our smiling, happy Assiatou back.
When she gets supported from the youth center’s adult staff and volunteers, then she in-turn becomes a support to her peers. I am in awe of her ability to reach out when she needs someone to listen to her and in her peer leadership. More importantly, she believes in herself and demonstrates that it’s important to her to have adults who believe in her and support her at SSYC.