Accumulating impacts, one at a time

Often we measure success by the numbers. Sometimes that number is one.

Tiarra Wright, Michigan State University Extension health and nutrition program instructor, achieved success by reaching one young person.

In October, Tiarra started a youth series with the Saginaw County Head Start Program. On the first day, she was introduced to a shy 4-year-old named Hannah. Hannah’s teacher and parents told Tiarra that Hannah would not verbally communicate.

Each week, Tiarra traveled to the program site to teach the students from the curriculum, “Show Me Nutrition.” She and the children became “germ fighters” and “fruit and veggie super eating heroes.” The children loved the program, incorporating their weekly lessons into their daily habits at home and school.

As the class continued over the six weeks, Tiarra saw a change in Hannah, who was becoming more willing to get involved.

At the last class meeting, Hannah’s parents insisted on meeting “Miss Terra,” which was one of Hannah’s first spoken phrases. Hannah had been going home and attempting to speak to her parents about eating fruits and vegetables and being a “germ fighter.”

“When I met Hannah’s mom, her eyes began to fill with tears as she said she thought that her child would not speak and how amazing you (Tiarra) must be!” Tiarra said. “I could only share these tears of joy and excitement with them, for this has been a long-awaited moment and I thought how lucky I am to be able to share this with them!”

Hannah is still speaking very little, but her excitement and joy is evident.

“As a program instructor, I feel that I have not only increased the overall knowledge and importance of healthy eating, but I have also made an impact in a child’s life that will change her lifestyle forever,” Tiarra added. “Knowing that I made a difference in just one person’s life, that is a true success!”

In MSU Extension, we sometimes look to the number of participants to help make the case that our programs are important. But the impacts of our programs accumulate one person at a time, and sometimes the story of one impact spotlights how important our work can be. Little Hannah is a great example of one tremendous impact.

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