Lets keep in touch at
touch facebook
Visit largest website for
Corporate events keynote speaker

Diane Latiker - Inspirational & Motivational Stories

Diane Latiker - Kids Off the Block

Also known as the 'Windy City', Chicago city (Illinois, USA) has a dark side. A small neighborhood, Roseland, is well known for its gang violence and is seen as one of the most dangerous communities in the city. Most have kept off the street due to the gang violence, but there is one courageous lady who is determined more than the others to make a difference for the youth of the community. Her name is Diane Latiker, a 54 year old cosmetologist. She shared a good rapport with the kids in the neighborhood despite most of them being involved in gangs. She says that she was once "young and dumb," back in high school. She dropped out of high school and was a mother of 7 kids by the age of 25. But by the age of 36, she turned her life around, got re-married and earned her GED. She had also given birth to her eighth child, Aisha.

Worried about Aisha getting involved in the violence, Diane took her and her friends for swimming and movies. Aisha urged her mother to do something with the kids in the community as they respected her. Her desire to help them create something of their lives in terms of living a normal life with education and a means of livelihood became her inspiration to establish Kids Off the Block.

People thought she was crazy inviting unknown kids, especially gang members, into her living room. But since 2003, her nonprofit community program has helped over 1,500 kids. She invited the kids to her home and to her surprise they all started yelling out what they want to be in life. Some said they wanted to be doctors, rapper and so on. They talked about their hopes, dreams and fears. Seeing positive improvement in the kids, Diane quit her job and devoted herself full time to the kids. Kids Off the Block was born with 10 kids in her living room.

By 2004 the group started connecting with various communities in other cities such as Detroit and St. Louis. Diane made sure that these kids knew there was a world beyond their own block back in Chicago. They talked to young people living in other cities. Of course, Diane had to make many sacrifices. She went ahead and sold her TV set and dining room set to buy a computer station. Four years later, in 2008, potential donors approached Diane to buy a bus for the programme. However, the next day she learned that the building next door was for sale. She asked the donors if the money could be used to buy the building instead and sooner than she knew it, the building was hers. Kids Off the Block had a new home at last on July 15, 2010.

They call the building The KOB Youth Community Center. They invite everyone especially the youth of the community to visit. Usually, 30 to 50 young people visit the center looking for an educational session with teachers. The kids are also provided job interview training. Effort is also made to engage them in the community with field trips to museums or to the movies. KOB focuses on people between the ages of 11 to 24 as they feel that they hold our future in their hands. KOB also focuses on activities that target males because they are most often the ones confronting the violence of the streets.

Through her efforts, Latiker has become a voice for local youth in this violence struck community. Her never-ending endeavor remains to ensure more people pay attention and come forth to lead better lives for themselves and their loved ones. According to CNN reports, Diane's   programme Kids Off The Block, has become a successful mentoring haven for Chicago's youth, serving nearly 300 kids last year.

With meager resources, Diane also a CNN Hero did what very few can accomplish. She took what she had, kid's respect for her and her desire to give them a better life, to transform the lives of over 300 kids.

Like Diane, you can also achieve success by focusing on what you have and saying at every opportunity you get, "I will do it."

Submit Inspirational Story

If you know about someone who has achieved what seemsed initially impossible or who has overcome almost insurmountable odds, please submit his inspirational story to us through email and we wll publish the same on our website.