Fearless Leader Award Goes To....

This is a blog post republished from one of our students that we recently gave an award to at our end of the year celebration. 

Words & Pictures by: Atira Barber-Ellis

This past Thursday I won the Fearless Leader Award from my mentorship program STOKED NY. Shocked is an understatement honestly. There are so many PHENOMENAL students in the program and to be honest I have a lot of fears so I never even thought of myself winning. That all changed when Romney (our program manager) got to the mic. He said “she” letting everyone in the room narrow down their list.

And STOKED, I’ll never forget this moment

My Year 3 family was scattered around the room but I could hear a few of them just repeating “Atira Atira”… and Atira wasshaking her head no. Then Romney gave very specific details like this very site! And Flatbush Fest! He even looked to me and asked if he said it right. I watched as the Year 3 kids in my row slowly leaned over and just smiled at me as I tried not to breakdown. It was insane!

In our program, when I think of a Fearless Leader I think of the kids who throw their hands in the air to be volunteer speakers or the kids who go to every skate and snowboarding event to learn dope tricks. Not the struggling college student who spent way too much money getting from New Rochelle to Brooklyn for meetings. Not the kid who hid from cameras and pulled all nighters to edit videos when she should’ve been studying for exams.


By the time I reached the stage to get this sick deck (I swear they chose it just for me) I was shaking and surprised I hadn’t started crying.

The truth is that I lost my mother early November and I felt like I’d lost my whole world. So I filled up my schedule with everything I could to distract myself . But being at Stoked every week didn’t feel like a distraction. It felt like nothing but pure love and admiration for everyone in the room and everyone we met.

Some of my favorite memories are with STOKED. No matter how old I get I never plan to leave them.

So thank you Stoked for seeing a leader in me and giving me a beautiful family and a loving home.