We help children in Kentucky overcome the grief of losing a parent.
Young Hearts offers a safe place for children to express their grief, emotions, develop healthy relationships, and build self-esteem.
Young Hearts provides mentorship, pairing one mentor with one mentee. We believe that our mentorship program is vital, leaving a long-lasting impact on children’s lives.
Young Hearts is a mentorship program designed to help children overcome the grief of losing a parent(s). Young Hearts believes that bereaved children deserve to have a safe place to grieve through connection, mentorship, and peer support.
Meet the Founder & Executive Director
Danielle Chesney was born and raised in California, the heart of the Central Valley. Danielle credits her parents with instilling strong values in her and her brother such as hard work, courage, and kindness.
In September of 2007, two weeks into Danielle’s freshman year of high school, her mom passed away after a long battle with breast cancer at the age of 42. Her greatest legacy was her commitment to faith, the community, and being a devoted mother, wife, and friend.
Danielle competed with USA Gymnastics for 12 years as a level nine gymnast, dedicating most of her childhood to training and traveling for state and regional gymnastics competitions. Danielle finished high school and began making plans to continue her education. Inspired by the movie “Dreamer” and a Kentucky sweatshirt found in her mom’s closet, she moved across the country to attend the University of Kentucky where she studied Family Sciences with a minor in Community Leadership and Development in the department of Human Environmental Sciences.
During her tenure at the University of Kentucky, Danielle found a passion for studying the psychology of families and children. Her paper on the three attachment styles (avoidant, anxious, and secure) using Vygostky’s theory, was awarded with the highest academic honor in 2017 in the Department of Sociology. During her senior year, she interned with the NEST – a center for Women, Children, and Families to provide crisis care intervention through direct service to individuals, children, and families in need. She also served with Kentucky Refugee Ministries to assist refugees who are settling in the United States. The University of Kentucky’s Undergraduate Department selected Danielle as the Student Spotlight in the 2019 Alumni Magazine for her achievements and passion for the university.
The dream of starting a parental loss program began when she spoke to the University of Kentucky’s Community Leadership and Development faculty on implementing a program for bereaved children in 2018. After she graduated college, she started mentoring a young boy named, Dean, who lost his mom to cancer. She saw an opportunity to combine her passion for helping children and her desire to honor the memory of her mom by providing mentorship and companionship to children who have lost parents. With the help of mentors, a support structure, and faculty from the University of Kentucky, she created Young Hearts – a program designed to help children overcome the grief of losing a parent.
1 in 10
children will lose their parent or sibling by the age of 18.
Kentucky ranks #5 in the nation for bereavement rates.
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