CRAIG DELLIMORE APRIL 24, 2018 – 9:59 AM

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) — Michelle Morales is the Chicago Executive Director of the Mikva Challenge, an organization that develops young people from low-income communities into community leaders.

She was pushed down her career path after being assigned to teach at an alternative high school.

“That spawned a 20 year career in really working with youth, and particularly youth that tend to be marginalized and disenfranchised, and creating spaces for them,” Morales said.

She gets through to young people, she said, by just being herself.

“I think it’s the adults who get very uncomfortable when a young person makes fun of them and then they react. I don’t do that. I get made fun of all the time, and that’s okay,” Morales laughed.

But, how do you turn teenagers who already face challenges into leaders?

“One of the biggest ways we have found success in getting young people to become activists, problem solvers, solution makers is by getting them to hone in on their values and what are the issues that are important to them,” she said.

Mikva Challenge/Facebook

You give them the tools, and they lead – simple.

“They are some of the most positive human beings on the planet. And no matter what is going on, their perseverance and their ability to say okay what do we do about this? I’m constantly shocked by it. So it is giving them the space and honestly, it is really for us adults to kind of get out of the way,” Morales said.

Mikva Challenge’s Michelle Morales, another newsmaker Making a Difference.

As WBBM celebrates its 50th anniversary as Newsradio, this year we’ll be honoring 50 Newsmakers making a difference in the community.  Listen for reports each Tuesday.