One Woman’s Crusade to Ensure That Kids of All Socioeconomic Levels Are Able to Reap the Benefits of Real Connection

The power of joy.

  • Category
    Health, People
  • Written by
    Heather David
  • Photographed by
    Tameka Jacobs

Joy McElveen’s energy is nothing short of contagious, and although you might look at her quizzically when she first tells you she is a “children’s play specialist,” it doesn’t take long before you get it.

“I’ve found my niche with children, connecting with them through sports, games, conversation and all things fun! As a black female—especially during this time and my name being Joy—I think it’s the perfect way to reach young people. If they feel the love coming from my heart, we’re on our way to change.”

“Children want to know they have your time.”

In 2008, the South Carolina native came to LA to pursue a career in acting and modeling and got a day job at The Amazing Kid Company, which provides entertainers for kiddie parties and events.

After 10 years with the company, Joy recognized the need for and value of one-on-one connection—not just at special occasions, but in general. And nowhere was that need greater than with families on tight budgets, who might not have the luxury of hiring people for children’s activities.

So Joy recently formed the nonprofit The Joy Experience, partnering with the National Black Child Development Institute to connect with kids through school programs. The programs focus on meditation, the power of words, scavenger hunts and storytelling.

“The number one thing that I do is that I set a mindful intention when I’m with children. It’s not rushed—anyone can come and play—but I come with an intention to build them up and empower them.”

At the end of the day, Joy believes that nothing is more important than one-on-one bonding. “Children want to know they have your time.”