Youth Ambassador / NY

Your Value, Your Science

By: Nicole Kim, YAV Teen Ambassador (Armonk, New York), high school junior, activist

The pressure to be perfect has, in many ways, perfected its methods. In recent years, rising levels of stress and anxiety in the lives of teenagers around the world have turned an already difficult, emotionally taxing time of adolescence into an even more demanding environment characterized by elevated, and often misleading, standards of excellence. Couple this phenomenon with academic pressures, and the result is an erroneous perception of not only one’s expectations for the future, but also one’s perception of self-worth.

I find myself in no way immune to this sensation. I grew up never knowing if I was “good enough,” if my character or intellect would allow me to make it in the world, or would ever make me feel worth something in my own shoes. Despite all these misgivings, though, I found comfort and confidence in my two favorite subjects: math and science. Numbers, equations, molecules, and cells—these all provided me with a sturdy support to lean on whenever I felt standards of excellence in various aspects of my life starting to rise to unrealistic levels. In math and science, I found my own self worth.

Upon entering high school, I learned of the national STEM initiative, a push for increased interest in math, science, and engineering fields among American youth. I found rooted in the movement a connection to the growing pressure to be perfect that characterized my life and has pervaded adolescence in present day. In realizing that teenagers often avoid areas like math and science because they don’t feel adequate or valuable, it has become my mission to prove that quite the opposite is in fact true.

People find their self-worth, their value, through various means. Acting as a defense against the ravages of adolescence, a successful discovery of one’s true passion can facilitate the acceptance of excellence on one’s own terms and ensure self-validation for years to come. For me, the means was STEM, but I myself am still seeking answers about my path as an individual. The greatest feat one can accomplish, the achievement of self-love, isn’t easy to fulfill, but I am confident that by promoting the discovery of passion and scholarly enthusiasm is a simple step we can all take towards renouncing the false social standards of today and realizing the potential we all inherently possess.


It is clear that people not only need the message of you are valued ,but they are inspired by it.

We have reached a point in our growth where we needed a space to build from. We took a risk to get a headquarters to do just that.

This is not something we necessarily wanted to do, but knew we had to if we wanted to take our efforts to the next level. This space creates the platform for youth to come to us for workshops, as well as other building community initiatives, volunteers to get more involved, and to have a headquarters to plan community events to value others, and ways to continue spreading our message far and wide.

Please take a few moments to view our campaign on indiegogo and give what you can. The campaign ends May 18th!


I was on a short surf trip to Puerto Rico.  On the last day I stopped by one of the best food trailers in the area.  The owner is such a pleasant man, not to mention an amazing chef.  I felt inspired to give him a YAV card, so I did.  I wasn’t sure whether or not he got it, as he spoke little English, but sensed he appreciated the gesture either way.  I went on to finish my food not thinking much about it.  As my friend  Brett (who made it possible for me to be on the trip in the first place) and I were driving away from the parking lot, what appeared to be his wife comes running out, waving her arms.  I rolled down the window.  She said, with a heavy accent, “Do you have more cards.”  “I want to give more.”  “The whole world needs this.”  I said, “yes I do and I feel the same way.” I gave her the stack I had.   We both smiled and acknowledged the power of the message at hand.

I did nothing but gave her husband a card.  He then showed her and she understood the power of its message and felt inspired, in an instant, to be a part of the movement to value others.  YOU ARE VALUED is a universal message that people of all places, socioeconomic statuses, genders, sexual preferences, cultures, and religions stand to benefit from.  In it’s simplest form it is a movement of valuing others, which can happen anywhere any of us are, that we continue to carry forward in various capacities and ways.


Ricky Roberts III

Founder & Willing Heart


YAV continues to create change one heart at a time near and far.

There are over 9000 YAV push cards in circulation, to date (1/2014), reaching as far as Indonesia, Belgium, and Paris (that we know of). Over 2000 youth and 1000 adults have been reached in 2014 by workshops on empowerment, promoting compassion, goal development, and/or building community at detention centers, adult groups, elementary, middle, and high school classrooms, recreation centers, and community events. 

Please take a few minutes to watch this brief slide show highlighting YAV IN ACTION over the past year.

Click here to view the video:

Thank you for taking the time to check it out!


Meet Jerry

Jerry has been in the downtown St. Petersburg area for many years. I have known him and seen him around for at least twenty.  When I say know him, I have had the privilege to talk with him many times over the years.  As a teenager I would see him on somewhat of a regular basis because of how often I was downtown.  I always appreciated the wisdom he so freely shared with me, not to mention his laugh out loud comedy.

I was driving and saw Jerry standing at a bus stop.  Excited to see him, as I haven’t in several months, I pulled over to say hello, give him a hug and check in with him.  The last time I saw him he had just gotten out of the hospital.  He gave me a good report on his health, which made me happy to hear.

I gave Jerry two YAV cards and let him know how much I appreciate him.  When he read one of the cards front and back, he instantly said, “there are a lot of people that need this.”  He then went on to say, “there are many people at Williams Park that definitely do not value themselves and they need someone to value them.”  He then asked if he could have some more and said, “I know exactly who I will give these to.”

Regardless of what “programs” are done and where they take place, the essence of YAV is valuing others.  Where ever that happens or however that takes place, it is all one in the same.

Everyone matters and deserves to know it!

Valuing Our YOUTH

One of my favorite things to do when I work with a group of young people, no matter what the setting may be, is to ask them: How I, adults in general, can help them feel empowered, respected, supported, heard; valued? Nine times out of ten the answers are very similar in relation to how we can best serve them. Their answers: Listen to us, respect us, talk with us not down to us, try to understand us, believe in us, and don’t judge us for the mistakes we have made, and treat us like people not kids.

Our youth are a vital part of our well being as a world.  It is imperative that we listen to them in the best way we are able. The truth is, there are too many young people who feel unvalued and not just in the more “challenged” parts of our community, but in general.  The really sad truth is there may be some who never feel valued at all. The general sense of not feeling “valued” amongst our youth is almost overwhelming. When people are valued, they not only feel better but they are better. When they are “better” it is more likely they will want others to feel the same.

Take a moment to ask: how do I treat the youth in my family, neighborhood, at the movies, malls and parks? What do I do when I see a young person who has a clothing style I don’t agree with? How am I teaching the t with the life I lead? How can I better, not only see the value in who they are, but remind them of it? Thank you for taking your time to consider how you can inspire our youth of the world to see the greatness in who they are. Remember, young people have so much to share, to teach us, if we choose to give them the opportunity to do so.

The truth is: no matter who we are we stand to benefit from being valued. Everywhere we are, every interaction we have, we have the opportunity to inspire change in another person simply by valuing them. Our youth, our community, or world matter and deserve to know it.

When we encourage others to be their best we are serving the well being of the world at large.


Founder / Willing Heart – Ricky Roberts III

Valuing Others

Several months ago, Josh of Zen Glass Studios in St. Petersburg, Fl. expressed his appreciation for the efforts with YOU ARE VALUED. He then shared his desire to “value” the great nurses of Palms of Pasadena hospital for the kindness and compassion they emulated while taking care of his passing mother.  We believe the work at hand is not acknowledged nearly enough and welcomed the opportunity to do so. It was our privilege to partner with Zen Glass on the project at hand. Josh came up with the idea of hand blowing white glass hearts and attaching them to YOU ARE VALUED cards.  It wasn’t long before Josh rallied his students of all levels and resident staff to hand create white hearts just for the ICU nurses of Palms of Pasadena. It was a joy to see such willingness from everyone involved to let the nurses know just how much they do matter.  Although these hearts were made specifically for the ICU Nurses, we appreciate the entire hospital staff just the same and encourage the continued appreciation of them.

One of the most inspiring aspects of this particular project was not only the joy it brought to Josh’s heart to acknowledge the people who did so much for him but to see the appreciation they had to be “valued”.  One nurse said, “out of the twenty-five years she has been a nurse, this is the nicest thing anyone has ever done for us.”  Imagine that, this is the one time in a twenty-five year career that she witnessed people taking enough time to let them know how much they matter.  Now imagine, how many others feel the same.  We can change that, together!

Whether it be the nurses of a hospital, teachers of a school, server at your favorite restaurant, bus driver, and etc, everyone matters and deserves to know it.  We invite you to join our movement of valuing one another by thanking others for the great work they do in our world.  No matter who we are or what position we hold in our society, we can all appreciate what it feels like to be valued.  Let someone know they matter today! We are all in this together!



We had the great pleasure of working with a group of inspiring young people on promoting compassion and building community. In the building community element of our work with them, they chose to value the custodians that keep their center looking as great as it does by making him thank you cards/pictures. The intention behind this initiative is to give them the opportunity to experience the benefit of valuing others, while valuing themselves just the same.  The more we, as a global community, facilitate opportunities for young people to experience the joy in giving, the more likely they are to contribute to creating positive change in our world.

From the words of a young person in the group, “you make me smile just by asking me how my day was.” Never underestimate just how far a simple act of kindness can go.

Take a moment to watch this short slideshow/video:  YAV – Building Community and Promoting Compassion

You Are Valued – Ricky Roberts III

Building Community

One of the workshops we do is on building community. We discuss the many people it takes to keep our world going. We then talk about how often we forget to appreciate one another as much as we should. We recently had the honor to connect with a group mixed with elementary and middle school children. We had a wonderful discussion and did an activity inviting the group to draw a picture or write words to express their gratitude for different people in the community.

After further discussion, I asked, “Who keeps the floors clean at the center?” Who keeps the building looking as good as it does? Who makes sure the lights are working? The group replied, “Mr. Ed.” Our focus then became on thanking him for all that he does for the group. We also decided what better way for the group to experience the impact of their efforts than to have the kids VALUE him in person at a later date. We are currently planning a “pizza social” to let Mr. Ed know just how VALUED he is. Not only will he feel valued, the young people will too. They will see the power in building community by taking the time to let someone else know they matter!

The group was so kind and sincere with their appreciation for Mr. Ed’s great work. The one thing that stood out to me the most is the words shown in the feature photograph of this blog. This young person captured the very essence of our work, the power of taking the time to value others. Her words say it all, “Just by saying how are you today? Makes my day!”

Take the time to value others!

Ricky Roberts III / Founder / Willing Heart

Live Empowered

I recently had the pleasure of working with a group of young people at the Home Builders Institute in Tampa, FL. It’s a wonderful program that gives young people an opportunity to learn applicable job skills such as: electrical work, building, and plumbing, as well as the ability to finish their high school education or obtain their GED. The program director, staff and teachers clearly had a deep passion for the great work they do!

I asked the group what empowerment meant to them. They responded with, “being in control of someone.” “It is being like the president or a boss over people.” Their first thought is how others are the ones in power and empowerment only means to be in power over others. Through our discussion, I eventually challenged them to see how they themselves can be empowered and how it doesn’t mean to control someone else, or be better than, but to feel the power of choice they have in actualizing their fullest potential, no matter what circumstances they may face. We went onto have an inspiring talk about their dreams, choices they can make to reach them and things that may hold them back and healthy ways to work through them. It was powerful to hear the input they shared with me, as well as each other.

The truth is: there are many people who do not feel empowered as individuals because of adversities, criticism or being told they are not good enough, time and time again. Whatever the case may be, this becomes their reality, which leads to the belief they are not worthy and it is only “those people” who deserve to be empowered. However, when that same person is given a chance to be heard, and are reminded of the value in who they are, there is a light that radiates from them. It is the natural occurrence stimulated from another person letting them know they matter. Even if it is for a moment, the magic of seeing someone connect with the value in who they are, is beyond words. The more people see the value in who they are the more likely they are to not only treat themselves with more love and respect, and realize their fullest potential, but will want the same for others.

YOU ARE A GIFT TO THE WORLD. There is only one like you in the whole universe. I invite you to take a moment to acknowledge the greatness in who you are and what you have to offer the world around you.


Ricky Roberts III