Youth Ambassadors write children’s book depicting harsh reality

In one story entitled, Dinner Time, a Youth Ambassador describes how she would try to fill up on food and water at school so she could share her dinner portion with her mother, who often went without food to provide for her children.

In one story entitled, Dinner Time, a Youth Ambassador describes how she would try to fill up on food and water at school so she could share her dinner portion with her mother, who often went without food to provide for her children.

The cover of Welcome to My Neighborhood, a children's book NOT for children. Welcome to my Neighborhood follows the real-life journal writings of three brave Kansas City Youth Ambassadors

The cover of a short chapter called Dinner Time. Youth Ambassadors (YA) is a Kansas City not-for-profit designed to empower underserved youth with the knowledge that they, as teenagers, have a vital voice.


In my children’s favorite childhood book, For Every Child a Better World, Kermit the Frog shows children that others are working hard to make our world a better place.  It is a compassionate book that gently introduces us to how others live “outside” their community and acquaints us to the United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of a Child: the right to grow up in a healthy and peaceful environment, the right to food and clean water.  

When I was little, I was raised to think of the poor children in Africa when I didn’t want to finish my dinner, and to be grateful I was able to attend school, because many girls overseas were not allowed. But what about next door?  What about the children living right next door in conditions we would rather not think about, rather not see?  

When we are faced with the reality many of our neighbors confront daily, it is tempting to don our blinders, so we can go about our days in a manner that is comfortable. But children? Kansas City children numb to the violence in their homes and on the streets or children who rely on school lunches for their next meal? These amazing, resilient children are the authors of a real-life storybook, Welcome to My Neighborhood, a newly released children’s book not for children.

In the style of a child’s early reader, complete with water-colored illustrations of a family of cute kittens, gun-toting bunnies and a crack-smoking rat, Welcome to my Neighborhood follows the real-life journal writings of three brave Kansas City Youth Ambassadors.

The premise of the book, “If you won’t read this to your children, how can we let our children live this?” haunts us as we turn the pages of this three-minute, you-can’t-ignore-me publication. Now, every time I sit down to a meal I think of our Ambassador when she was a young girl and she realized that if she “ate little and drank big glasses of water,” she could offer the rest of her dinner to her hungry mother, thus waiting for her free lunch at school the next day.

Youth Ambassadors (YA) is a Kansas City not-for-profit designed to empower underserved youth with the knowledge that they, as teenagers, have a vital voice. They have the power to be active participants in their communities, not just passive observers. To this end, YA provides programs that provide youth with important life skills, soft job skills and creative expression, helping them become future community leaders willing and able to work for positive change.

Welcome to my Neighborhood was published by Youth Ambassadors as an educational tool.The book is not for sale; it will be distributed to educators, policy makers, and organizations that want to use it as a tool. 

Our Ambassadors speak to “inspire and motivate;” “speak for truth;” “speak for kids who are scared to stand up for themselves;” speak for “those who suffer in silence;” and “for stories untold.”  “I know that if God could move seas with his words, then I’d be a fool not to try.”

~ 2015 – 2016 Youth Ambassadors


2 thoughts on “Youth Ambassadors write children’s book depicting harsh reality

    This is a wonderful book that opens our eyes to the harsh realities of our children, especially teens, in our Kansas City neighborhoods. A tool for change this powerful has been a long time coming. Bravo VML and Youth Ambassadors!

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HCF's Local Health Buzz Blog aims to discuss health and health policy issues that impact the uninsured and underserved in our service area. To submit a blog, please contact HCF Communications Officers, Jennifer Sykes, at jsykes@hcfgkc.org.

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