With all the information in our recent news cycle, it is tough to discern and digest the facts and issues facing our modern-day society. Imagine if you were a child listening to all these current events; events that are directly shaping your future. How do you explain current events — and all the social, political and cultural nuances that accompany those events — to a child? Deena Neimat set out to do just that through her organization Little Voices Are Loud, which provides resources to aid adults in these conversations with children and to guide them on an educated, intentional path in life. Deena wants us to have “trailblazer children” who are equipped to handle present-day realities and set the tone for their own future lives. Get to know Deena better today — she’s our newest FACE of Louisville!
Tell us about the organization that you founded, Little Voices Are Loud.
As a mother to three, I searched for resources on how to engage my children in social and world issues, allowing them to see beyond what they are exposed to every day. I want to raise my children with the understanding that we are fortunate in so many ways, and I believe all parents strive for the same. Little Voices was the answer to this. We provide resources for parents and educators to aid in initiating meaningful conversations with children about current, sometimes complicated social issues. Little Voices Are Loud believes in the power of kids’ ideas and insights, and we equip them to make a difference in our world. Through three unique Changemaker Boxes, we engage kiddos on how they can create more goodness in our world — while encouraging them to be LOUD.
We have partnered with three incredible non-profits, each making significant strides in their realm of impact. We’re proud to have teamed up with International Justice Mission, Malala Fund and charity: water. As we equip young activists with exciting tools and provide parents with interactive resources, we’re simultaneously supporting the work of each cause through the sales of our Changemaker Box.
You have a unique perspective on life, growing up in America but having family in the Middle East. How has that affected your dialogue with your children and with your business?
For me, aligning myself with my heritage is how I’ve found fulfilling work. My parents immigrated to the United States, and throughout my childhood I lived in two very parallel, yet different worlds. My childhood in the United States was a predictable, happy and safe one. While our extended family lived in a volatile part of the world, I experienced those stark differences from a young age, and I knew the world was different. Now as a mother, I try to have very honest and real conversations with my children about the world. While naturally we may feel the need to protect our little ones from harsh realities, I kept coming back to the idea of raising children with the belief that they can create change, regardless of age. We can all participate in making the world better.
How did you go from thinking about how to guide your kids through the confusion of current events to actually having something tangible to give to people?
The idea held onto me for some time before it came to fruition. As a mom to three, I didn’t have the bandwidth to create it on my own. Along the way, I made some great friendships, and their belief in Little Voices was really the momentum we needed to create it.
What do you hope to achieve with this organization? Do you feel like the need is more pertinent than ever during these conflicted times?
We hope to encourage kids and parents to pay attention, get involved and empower their ability to create change. The world will be a better place for it, and empowering a child builds character and courage. Don’t we all want trailblazer children? It is certainly pertinent now more than ever. Decisions are being made every day that will affect our planet and its people, and our kids should have a voice in this change.
What did you do in your past career(s)? Did that past lead you to where you are now?
I’ve done everything from being a cashier, to a waitress through college and now a graphic designer by trade. I think I’ve taken with me the value of hard work and the desire to never stop learning new things.
What drew you to this line of work?
I want to feel good about what I do every day. Sometimes it’s working on a design project or creating something for Little Voices. Either way I feel like I’m able to use my skillset to create positive change.
How did you end up living in Louisville? What were you most surprised to learn about the city after moving here?
My husband joined University of Louisville last year. He’s my rock. Louisville has been a wonderful fit for our family. We love the altruistic nature of the community.
Give us a peek at your agenda. What’s a typical day or week like for you?
My mornings start early. Once the kids are off to school, I like to spend the first hour of my day re-centering. Sometimes it’s a class at B.You, other days it’s just taking care of something that has been on my mind. Once I do this, I’m able to be more productive with work. Afternoons are spent with the kids.
What are three words that describe you?
How about — creative, curious and nurturing.
What advice do you treasure?
Put your oxygen mask on first. I can’t take care of my family if I don’t tend to myself first. This is from my mother, who is one wise woman.
Fill in the blank. You’ll never see me without my ___________.
Water bottle. I’m never hydrated enough, but somehow I manage to carry a liter of water everywhere I go.
Favorite things to do in Louisville?
We love to walk the Big Four Bridge, the museums — Speed, Kentucky Science Center. Oh, and KMAC, especially when I’m exhausted. They have a great creative center in the back and a barista nearby in the cafe. I can ingest caffeine, and my kids are happy playing — this is bliss!
Tell us some of your favorite local restaurants.
What’s on your personal reading list right now?
What are three of your favorite things right now?
My camera, markers and Kombucha
Thank you to Adele Reding Photography for the wonderful photos.
Read about more inspiring women in Louisville in our FACES of Louisville weekly features here.