IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- The Human Rights Youth Awards recognizes local youth that contribute to the community. The event recognized young people in Iowa City on Wednesday, as well as an adult.
It takes a village. Sabrena Shields dedicates her life to fulfilling that proverb. By making a lasting impact on kids at North Central Junior High. Her program Successful Students Inspired through Knowledge and Education is modeled after a program at City High. It focuses on cultural issues and diversity.
"I had a student come up to me and say because of you I was able to embrace my ethnicity so I like SSIKE because it creates a safe space for kids to talk about cultural issues" said Sabrena Shields, a student and family advocate at North Central Junior High School.
That's what she strives for - earning the trust and respect of these kids.
"It's an everyday thing for us and they definitely need a place to talk about those things" said Shields.
The kids say they've learned a lot from her.
"People could reveal who they really are so they don't have to be embarrassed and hide" said 8th grader Nicholas Hopson.
"Mrs. Shields is like one of a kind. She's like my second mom. I love her a lot" said 8th grader Nautyca Heideoberg.
A supervisor with the city of Iowa City says having people like Sabrena Shields in schools is vital.
"Knowing that a teen may not talk directly to their parents but if they have another trusting adult, that's just as impactful and she's done a really good job of that," said Raquishia Harrington, a Special and Underserved Populations Supervisor for the city of Iowa City, "By listening it's giving them an opportunity to process when and how they want to tell you things that's affecting them."
Shields says she felt humbled when she was given the 2017 Youth Ally Award.
"It feels like you cannot do enough but any type of recognition just feels great," said Shields, "I feel like my purpose is to help and these kids make me fulfill my purpose."
It takes a village, or someone just like Sabrena Shields.