Aileen Cunningham is a motivational speaker, author, and entrepreneur. Cunningham loves to travel as a youth leader giving hope to those who are lost without a vision for life. She reaches people with her creative style, passion for people, and incredible ability to reach into the hearts of adults and teens while providing a message that is life changing.
Harmoni Cunningham is an enthusiastic, outgoing, dynamic, cheerful young girl. She’s the author of “Just Be A Kid,” a book that inspires and encourages youth to enjoy being a kid. She enjoys making people laugh and smile, especially if she knows they’re having a bad day.
Van Buren: What inspired you to write your book, “Who Said I Wouldn’t Make It”?
Cunningham: I was a freshmen in college and it was placed on my heart; God put it in my spirit to write the book. “Who Said I Wouldn’t Make It” is a reflection of my life. I’ve experienced being in a children’s home, battling physical and emotional abuse and being rejected by society. I was told countless times that I would become an alcoholic, be a victim to substance abuse and I wasn’t capable or qualified to go away to college. The title is saying, you said I wouldn’t make it, but God had plans and his purpose was for my good. So everything that I’ve encountered will work together for my good. It’s just a reflection for anyone that felt like they weren’t good enough.
Van Buren: What inspired you to write her book, “Just Be A Kid”?
Harmoni Cunningham: One day I was in my mom’s room and I asked her if I could read her book. She told me I was too young to read it. She said it’s encouraging adults. I said well maybe I could write a book, but instead I’ll encourage children. I see nowadays children aren’t being kids, making memories and having fun. They’re worried about things that kids shouldn’t worry about.
Van Buren: What is it like partnering with your daughter to help empower young people and adults?
Cunningham: For me it’s encouraging. It’s rewarding. I feel like this is part of my purpose and my daughter which is my seed is a product of that. As a mother my desire has always been to raise her and provide a foundation.
Van Buren: Why is it important for kids to enjoy just being a kid?
Harmoni Cunningham: It’s important because, you won’t be a kid for long. You’re going to have to grow up one day, go to work and pay bills. You should want to have fun and enjoy being a kid. My mom says she wishes she was still a kid, it’s hard being an adult.
Van Buren: What advice would you give parents who share everything (finances, struggles, saying negative things about the other parent) with their kids?
Cunningham: I believe that we are models for our children. We’re not going to be perfect; there’s no manual that teaches you how to be the most perfect and productive parent. But we are a model to our children, so what our children witness, hear and see is more than likely the behavior they’ll model.
I’ve made attempts over the years to be sensitive about what I expose my daughter to, even my negative thoughts. That goes with guarding the type of influence that I wanted to project for Harmoni. I think as parents our responsibility and role is to safeguard our children. When you allow negativity to be projected in the long term it causes more damage for the child in my opinion than good.
Van Buren: How do you encourage others to overcome adversity?
Cunningham: To everything there’s a season. To individuals that are going through tribulations right now, this too shall pass. Where you are right now doesn’t have to be your final destination in life.
Van Buren: What advice would you give to your younger self?
Cunningham: I would advise my younger self to trust the process.
For more information, for upcoming speaking engagements and to purchase a copy of “Who Said I Wouldn’t Make It” or “Just Be A Kid” visit: https://www.empowered2speakout.com/