Sherrika Myers is a national speaker, children’s book author, certified life coach and founder of Every 1 Voice Matters. Myers helps children close interpersonal and social gaps that often lead to effects such as bullying and low academic performance. Every 1 Voice Matters reaches underserved youth and communities through outreach programs, grassroots events, yearly giveaways, digital initiatives and other innovative measures. Myers has been featured nationally on CBS, ABC, NBC, FOX, Spectrum News, the Black News Channel and more.
“I believe it is very important for young black kids to see themselves in any type of form that displays their talent and achievements. As a young black kid myself growing up, I never really saw dolls, cartoons or read children books that had characters that looked like me.”
Patrice: What do you think is the importance of Black History Month for kids?
Sherrika: The importance of Black History Month for kids is that they get to learn more about the impact and culture of their heritage. Kids are always curious and even though they learn throughout the year about Black History, during Black History month they are able to learn, focus, acknowledge and celebrate the great accomplishments of some of our great African American heroes.
Patrice: Tell us about the inspiration behind creating your mascot “Lil Herbie”
Sherrika: I was inspired to create Lil Herbie after I saw the response the animated series was receiving from kids and I realized that kids respond better to an actual character, so I decided to create my very own mascot and name him after my grandson Lil Herbert, who also stutters. The real Lil Herbie is the kid that has been within me for years and has been afraid to talk and interact with people. When I found my voice, I was finally able to birth this character.
Patrice: I really love what you are doing with your non-profit and YouTube series. What do you feel like is the main goal to achieve when starting your non-profit and series?
Sherrika: My main goal when starting my nonprofit and series was to make sure that I was able to reach as many kids as I can who may be dealing with this speech impediment and some of its effects such as low self-esteem, bullying, low self-confidence or any other issues that may be hindering them from becoming the best version of themselves.
Patrice: Stuttering is common amongst most children. Can you tell us more about the issues and challenges you faced growing up?
Sherrika: I went through a lot of different challenges growing up stuttering such as low self-esteem, being teased, laughed at and ignored. I always felt like I didn’t belong because of my stutter. I used to allow my siblings to speak for me because I was afraid of people knowing that I stuttered. I started to isolate myself from people who weren’t in my circle and who didn’t know that I stuttered.
Patrice: Why do you think it is important for young black kids to see themselves in cartoons, movies and in books?
Sherrika: I believe it is very important for young black kids to see themselves in any type of form that displays their talent and achievements. As a young black kid myself growing up, I never really saw dolls, cartoons or read children books that had characters that looked like me. I believe it is important to show them that it’s possible to achieve those same accomplishments as any other race. I want our African American kids to look at Lil Herbie and feel like, if he can do it, then I can do it, too. I don’t want our kids to feel like they have to limit themselves because of their race or that they aren’t worthy to have a mascot who looks like them or a cartoon that represents their race.
Patrice: Who was your inspiration when starting your business?
Sherrika: I always had it in my mind to develop a program that works with kids who stutter, but my grandson Lil Herbert inspired me to start my nonprofit sooner. When my grandson was trying to tell me something one day and he couldn’t, he paused. He said to me, “Granny, I can’t say it.” I knew then that I had to do something. However, I knew that before I could help anyone, including him, I had to accept who I was, love myself and realize that stuttering is not who I am, it’s what I did. Once I realized that, I went back to school, got my degree and formed my nonprofit Every 1 Voice Matters.
Patrice: Let’s talk about the importance of creating a cartoon for Black Youth. Your mascot “Lil Herbie” is very inspirational in so many ways. Why did you feel like it was a need to create a young black mascot?
Sherrika: I wanted to create a mascot that all kids could relate to. Lil Herbie is a kid who went through some of the same issues our young black youth face on a daily basis and he still was able to become successful. I wanted to create a mascot that resembled perseverance and determination. Lil Herbie is that kid that didn’t grow up with much, raised in a single family household and a great example of what not allowing your past or your current situation to define your future looks like.
Patrice: What tips can you provide to parents on teaching their children about diversity and inclusion?
Sherrika: Start early. The sooner you start to teach them about diversity and inclusion the easier it will be for them to grasp it and understand it.
Patrice: Are you working on any new projects for this year?
Sherrika: Yes. I am currently working on The Lil Herbie Show, which will be premiering on our Lil Herbie Series YouTube page in March. We are very excited about that. I am also working on building our very own Lil Herbie Learning App, which will include reading, STEM, financial literacy, life skills, speech and much more.
Patrice: Where do you see yourself five years from now?
Sherrika: In five years, I see myself with several Every 1 Voice Matters Learning Centers across the country and Lil Herbie on everyone’s living room television with his very own television show. I also see a Lil Herbie toy collection in every toy store across the country.
Patrice: How do you balance between your personal and work life?
Sherrika: I am a workaholic and I try my best to balance the two, but sometimes it gets very hard to do so. I like to go to the mountains when I’m feeling overworked or have a lot on my plate to refresh and rejuvenate.
Patrice: What tips/advice can you give to anyone willing to start their own non-profit or write a children’s book?
Sherrika: Do it! If it’s something you believe in and want to do, don’t allow anyone to tell you that you can’t. I won’t tell you that it will be easy, but I will tell you when you love what you do, it’s worth it. Never give up!
Connect with Sherrika:
Facebook: Facebook.com/Lil HerbieSeries