Teen HYPE: Making a Difference for the Youth of Detroit

By: Michael Fossbakk | November 22, 2013

What would you do if you had the opportunity to influence somebody’s life in a positive way? Have you ever asked yourself this question? It’s not always going to be glorified or even credited, but the important thing is that you know you’ve done a good deed and so does the person or entity you’ve done the deed for. There are organizations around the Detroit area with this mentality, one of which is Teen HYPE (Helping Youth by Providing Education).

Teen HYPE is located at 453 Martin Luther King Blvd in Midtown Detroit. It has been providing help to teens since 2004. The nonprofit’s goal is to deter Detroit youths from getting involved in criminal, or violent behavior and showing them that they hold the key to their futures. Its mission is “to empower urban youth to thrive while strengthening their communities.” Several programs are offered to help teens reach their true potential.

“The most powerful thing that I’ve come to know about young people is that every increment of your time, talent and treasure you invest pays off in ways you could never imagine,” said Francis (Franky) Hudson, program director at Teen HYPE.  “There is no greater event to witness than to watch young people discover their purpose and what sparks them; it is truly life changing.”

Youth At Promise and Peer Education are two programs offered for the teens. The former provides structured activities after school each weekday, while the latter provides the opportunity for the youths to explore their creative side; as teens can participate in activities such as starring in plays, making music, or performing dance routines.

Youth At Promise includes five main activities. Daily academic assistance helps the teens with homework, while job club helps the youths get jobs, update their resumes and assists with money management. Family life and sex education provides knowledge and safety on these subjects, led by a health counselor. Rounding out the program are the arts and self expression activities such as music, dance or writing, and the individual life long sports activities such as tennis, swimming or martial arts.

The Peer Education program is open to youths aged 13-18 and allows teens to participate in comprehensive educational programming, personal development activities and community service opportunities. Youths help other youths through encouragement and mentor each other to help focus on making healthy life choices.

A current Teen HYPE group leader and personal friend of mine, Donny Herber, is one of the aforementioned people who decided to make a difference. He is currently working towards getting a fitness program started for the teens. The proposed gym area will offer exercise equipment, weights, and yoga and fitness classes. In addition, the youths will be educated on proper nutrition, exercise habits and a healthy lifestyle.

“I want the youth to gain a sense of responsibility in their health. I want them to make healthy choices and view exercise as an enjoyable way to improve their overall health,” says Herber. “A fitness center at Teen HYPE will help move the youth in the right direction.”

Real Talk and Loving Our Lives (LOL) are two additional programs that focus on providing education and encouragement for the youths. Topics like sexual education, health and disease prevention are covered. LOL is also offered in some Detroit high school classrooms, while Real Talk works as a community-level intervention program.

I was fortunate enough to spend a day at Teen HYPE and it is evident how much the staff cares for these youths. Sometimes all it takes is encouragement for young people to realize their full potential. It is nice to know that people still care about our city and its future. Detroit is on its way back up and programs like these are a great start. Let’s make a difference, Detroit.

The organization needs our help to raise funds for the fitness program.  If you would like to donate to this cause, or just make a general donation to Teen HYPE, please visit www.teenhype.org/donate.html. If you would like to donate towards the fitness center please mention that in the comment box. Checks can also be mailed in (use the memo line to specify if it is for the fitness program). All donations are tax-deductible as it is a 501(c)(3) organization. If you’re interested in learning more about Teen HYPE, tours of the facility will begin in January 2014, and will run once each month.