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Gratitude for the Greatness of Youth Workers


Gratitude is something you hear a lot about when November rolls around and the Thanksgiving holiday arrives. But it seems to me, gratitude is something that we should talk about every day. Gratitude makes everything better!

Gratitude is the practice of focusing on the good and being thankful. If you’re a regular reader of these Quick Takes youth work blog posts, you probably can spot that we at YIPA take every opportunity we can to express our heartfelt gratitude for the greatness of youth workers.

Our gratitude comes through in everything we do; our podcasts, our trainings, our blogs, our emails with members. We appreciate youth workers and everything they do. And we wish everyone else would see their true value the way we do.

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    Why youth workers deserve our gratitude

    Youth work is a profession that gets very little recognition. Youth workers, as a group, tend to be quite humble. So, you won’t often hear them toot their own horn or seek out recognition.

    But the truth is, it takes a special kind of person to be a consistent, caring, connected adult in a young person’s life. Not everyone has the temperament, the patience, or the passion to serve in this way.

    • Youth workers value young people and see it as an honor and privilege to support them
    • The greatest gift youth workers give is themselves, youth workers ARE youth work
    • They have had the courage to answer the call to a profession that is emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and physically very challenging
    • Youth workers serve a very special purpose to be witness to the strength and partner in the development of a young person
    • It is the youth worker being a calm, consistent presence that provides the capacity for a young person to see who they are, to become their own best self

    This is what we see and hear about every day. We’re grateful for the greatness of youth workers. And we’ll continue to shine a light on their greatness so others can see it, too.

    YIPA’s Youth Worker Hall of Fame

    Each year, we host a more formal celebration of the greatness in youth workers. We invite our members to nominate youth workers that they would like to recognize. From all the great nomination stories we receive, we have the difficult task of narrowing it down to four winners. But honestly, every one of them is a winner to us.

    At our annual meeting in December, the four individual youth workers are inducted into YIPA’s Youth Worker Hall of Fame. It is such an honor to center these individuals. Their commitment to young people and the difference they make in the world is an inspiration to us all.

    There are youth workers everywhere, quietly creating safer communities and ensuring stronger connections to community for young people. Visit a program in your area and say “thanks!”

    Their stories give us all the reasons we need to be grateful

    We created The Passionate Youth Worker podcast to share their stories with the whole world. Each one is unique but as you listen to them, you hear a common thread of commitment and passion to serve.

    Most have overcome challenges and setbacks. So, they personally know the landscapes young people are navigating. Many have built resilience through trauma and struggle. Their grit has helped them cultivate empathy and compassion.

    And hearing their stories, you feel the grace they operate with. Their determination to remove barriers, address systemic oppression, advance equity, and advocate for young people’s well-being and empowerment are absolutely inspiring.

    Every episode is free for everyone. The Passionate Youth Worker podcast has been heard in nearly 70 countries now. We invite you to listen and learn for yourself. And then join us in gratitude for the greatness of youth workers.

    About the author

    Barbara Van Deinse is the operations director of the Youth Intervention Programs Association (YIPA), a non-profit association of youth-serving organizations. We're your source for exceptional, affordable, personal and professional online learning via The Professional Youth Worker.  Join us!

    To ask Barbara a question or share your feedback about this blog, email

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