Gratitude for Impact Spotlight Stories

Meet Autumn, a 4th grader from East New York, Brooklyn.


When Autumn began programming, she often sat out and refused to participate. She claimed she didn’t like dance and couldn’t do it.  But we knew there was more to the story, especially since Autumn’s mom enrolled her because she loved to dance!  After several heartfelt talks, Autumn shared that she felt uncomfortable exercising and worried what others thought of her. Like many students, fear of failure and “looking stupid” drove her behavior. 

But everything changed when Autumn learned about growth mindset

Growth mindset is a central tenet in DMF Youth’s curriculum. Growth mindset affirms that talent and one’s ability to learn can change with effort. 

Many students believe that their intelligence and talents are fixed and unchangeable.  They are  afraid of learning and taking on challenges because of the fear of looking stupid.  But when students learn that stepping out of their comfort zones and doing hard tasks causes neurons in their brains to make new, stronger connections, they learn that their intelligence is NOT fixed.

They learn that struggling is normal, and often essential, when mastering new skills. They understand that effort, hard-work, and determination build intelligence and talent, not one’s innate abilities. 

When Autumn learned about growth mindset, she began approaching dance with the idea that she can get better with hard work and practice. She used other tools learned in DMF Youth (like positive self-talk, affirmations, and asking for help) to stick with challenging dances–and school work–longer. 

Autumn quickly became a leader in her class, demonstrating that with a positive growth mindset, you can do anything!

“Before [DMF Youth], I didn’t believe in myself. Now I do,” Autumn told us. 

In addition to embracing a growth mindset, Autumn  is also implementing mindfulness into her daily life!


“I’m [going to] meditate every afternoon after I’m done with my homework, before I have dinner.” said Autumn.   “When I meditate, I feel calm and relaxed.”  Autumn’s favorite breathing exercise is “hot chocolate breathing,” a hit with many of our students.

Autumn’s mom, Natasha, noticed that in addition to improved stamina and physical fitness, Autumn’s discipline, ability to focus, and ability to follow directions has vastly improved since starting DMF Youth.  DMF Youth’s curriculum has also provided a point of connection for the family.

 “[This program] has made us more united. We speak about her experiences in DMF daily,” said Natasha.  

We asked Autumn what she wanted DMF Youth supporters to know about her.  “Tell them I’m smart, I’m strong, I’m a good friend, and I’m a good dancer,” she exclaimed. Check out those affirmations!

Ensure MORE kids like Autumn receive DMF Youth’s critical programming.  Donate now and, together, we can keep creating impact!