We Need to Listen to the Kids

I had the honor and pleasure of participating in a press conference on February 8 announcing the release of the latest Kid’s Count in Michigan report.  While no press were in attendance (guess it was just a conference then), the time was well worth it because I got to meet participants from the program “Our Life in the D.”  Our panel consisted of  Marcella Wilson, president and CEO of Matrix Human Services; Gilda Z. Jacobs, president and CEO of Michigan League for Human Services, Jack Kresnak, president and CEO of Michigan’s Children, and me (that guy with the red tie).  The conference was moderated by Skillman Foundation program officer Robert Thornton.

I am not going to spend the time rehashing the data.  You can learn more about that by visiting the websites of either the Michigan League for Human Services or Data Driven Detroit.

Rather, I wanted to highlight the young people you see in the picture that opens this blog.  These were some of the reporters from Our Life in the D (www.ourlifeinthed.com), who shared personal stories related to information presented in the data.  For example, reporter Lettie-Ann Miller discussed being a student with asthma, and reporter Sarah Vang  talked about why more Detroit students are staying in school and graduating.  Reporters Asher Clark and Baaqar Ellis weighed in on student health, writing about a new Subway at Central High School.

As taken directly from their website, “Our Life in the D is a multimedia training and leadership project intended to provide young people like us living in Detroit with this Web site and a voice as we explore issues we face in our communities.  Our Life in the D has a special focus on the  Skillman Foundation’s six Good Neighborhood communities that include Chadsey-Condon, Southwest Detroit, Cody-Rouge, Osborn, Northend-Central and Brightmoor.

Under the guidance of professional journalists, we and our partners like the reporters at Youth Neighborhood News will produce stories, videos and other media. In addition to learning storytelling and Web skills, we will have the chance to become emeshed in civic life, gaining an understanding of our roles as active citizens and how policies affect us and how we can affect policies.”

These are the voices we need to be listening to.  Their perspectives on life in Detroit most often get drowned out and discarded.  We speak about the importance of education for our children and our hope that, once educated, they will return and work to build our future success.  If they are not listened to now, what reason will they have to return?

Jack Kresnak and Michigan’s Children have started something wonderful here.  Go to the website.  Support this effort in any way that you can.  This program and the youth that are involved represent one more reason I LOVE DETROIT!