Detroiters know the struggles we have faced as a city, but to ensure the future of Detroit we need to focus on the children. The children of Detroit face difficult decisions every day. The decision to stay in school, the decision to find productive things to do with their lives. These choices are not always easy ones, but they are vital to the future success of Detroit’s children. There is much work to be done and groups like YouthVille Detroit are working at changing not only the image of Detroit, but the lives of the young people that live there as well.
YouthVille is a comprehensive youth development facility that focuses on providing a safe place where Detroit’s adolescence can develop competence, motivation, aspirations and purpose.
YouthVille works hard to ensure that kids have a safe place to go and learn the skills they will need to get them further in life. Most of the participants come from the city of Detroit, and face economic, social and educational challenges. With these risk factors, the kids are more likely to drop out of school and are at higher risk for negative behavior and delinquency. However, over the course of the past two years, of those students that have participated in the YouthVille Detroit program, 85% have graduated from high school and most of them went on to college.
More than just a place to go after school, YouthVille is a fun and nurturing environment for students to learn and flourish. In the words of one participant, “Everyone there is a mentor, a counselor. The adults here [have] been around youth all their life. They are all young in heart. They really care about youth. And we can tell the difference in people who really care, and people who say they care.”
Dr. Andy Schneider-Muñoz, an expert in youth development, explains why Youthville Detroit is so special and essential to the youth of the city, “Few facilities across the country rise to the comprehensive quality of YouthVille both in terms of activities which teach life lessons and the skills that provide the competencies for success. The markers for youth development research—that all youth need enriched opportunities for motivated learning—tend to indicate that the country as a whole should be moving to the quality of a YouthVille, if we want our youth to be ready for the future.”
By offering interesting and engaging classes, YouthVille keeps kids wanting to come back day after day. They offer academic classes that help with career development and they also offer courses that work towards teaching leadership and community service. Then there are the courses like digital media arts and technology, cultural arts and life skills that prepare students for every day life. Finally, there are classes offered in video and radio production, fashion design, robotics, ceramics, fitness, volleyball, basketball, website design, graphic design, poetry and performance, journalism, cartoon illustration, music technology and more. There truly is something for each student that participates in the YouthVille Detroit program.
Participants in the program are asked to purchase a $25 annual membership. However, no one is turned away. Once a student has joined the program, they and their parents are encouraged to attend an orientation to prepare them.
YouthVille Detroit is working to make sure that the next generation of Detroiters are prepared and ready to head into the future with inquisitive minds and open hearts.
For more information on YouthVille Detroit and the programs that are offered there, please visit their website at www.youthvilledetroit.org.