Underprivileged Children of Atlanta Have A True Advocate
Hearing what a child is saying in their silence
That was LaKisha Clarke’s answer when asked what inspired her to start the Kids Sew Genius Foundation. As someone who was often misunderstood as a child, she knew what it looked like. And felt like.
A member of the Atlanta community, LaKisha has been actively involved with children in her area since 2012. Highly creative, she’s always enjoyed sharing her love for sewing with the children in her neighborhood. She taught valuable skills and techniques, providing a constructive alternative to the gang activity so prevalent in the neighborhood.
Out of her own pockets she supplied the sewing materials along with other cool stuff like books, basketballs, sidewalk chalk and other classic goodies children love.
She soon realized, however, that the short sessions of sewing and socializing could serve as much more than a positive distraction.
In those days, they loved the interaction with her so much they didn’t want to leave when the class was over. She inspired them and taught them that they could be and do more than they ever knew. Spending that time with them, she realized that there was a void and she wanted to fill it. They needed to know that their life was valuable and there was a better way to live it.
While contemplating this, she would go on 3-mile walks in the mornings and see billboards of children killed in street violence. Each day, the number of billboards grew. Seeing the destruction of these young people every day drove her compassion to new heights.
Determined to do more, LaKisha founded the Kids Sew Genius Foundation.
Being an advocate for children and giving them an outlet through her foundation was something, she admitted to herself, she had to do. As a tax professional and business consultant, she knew the time and money it would take to get the charitable organization off the ground. Still, she jumped in with both feet.
“I couldn’t say no.”
Through mentorships and workshops, KSGF would give children in underprivileged communities a productive way to spend their time after school and on the weekends. Not only that–she wanted to go deeper.
As a child, she had an experience where she got into trouble for what her teacher considered “bad” behavior. There was a reason for that behavior but no one took the time to dig deeper. There was more to the story but she didn’t get the chance to tell it.
She sees a parallel with the children today.
Some may dismiss them as bad children and want nothing to do with them. In direct contrast to that opinion, LaKisha uses KSGF to uncover who the children are on the inside. Each child is allowed to shine in their unique way as they tap into their inner genius and find their purpose.
Bringing children out of poverty and into successful entrepreneurship is her organization’s goal. To create a generation of future professionals is her dream.
Despite not always getting the support she wanted in the beginning, she pushed forward with that dream. And it continues to grow. LaKisha is passionate about providing a wide range of creative and practical life skills including crafting, photography, gardening, painting and money management.
She hopes to implement travel into her curriculum one day. She believes that giving children a chance to see the world will inspire them. If they can see firsthand beyond what they encounter in daily life, they’ll develop a taste for something greater. As a troubled teen, she had an experience that drastically altered her life at the age of 18. She shares her story with youth and young adults, urging them to consider the consequences and speak to a mentor before they make a life-altering decision. She wants them to steer clear of the same snares and traps that she experienced.
LaKisha knows that first, they have to see the possibility within themselves.
Connecting children to their potential. That’s where her organization makes the difference.