The University of Michigan’s School of Public Health program is unique in that Ann Arbor is in such close proximity to the City of Detroit. Many of the projects that our professors run, whether they involve research or programming, are set in Detroit and tailored to the needs of the local population. It’s great to not only be able to develop projects for a specific nearby city, but to also then be able to visit and work there. I have now had three classes that involved working on projects in Detroit. Each of these courses has a different goal in mind when sending its students there. For Needs Assessment I ran a focus group surrounding food choices with Hispanic young adults. For Program Planning I helped create a youth program to beautify their neighborhood. And now in Community Organizing I am helping to recruit youth advocates for policy change in their schools. They have all involved youth, but with a different purpose and through different methods.
I’ve lived in Michigan my entire life, but I have seldom gone to Detroit and had never before interacted with the people who call it home. Even though it’s a challenge to drive out there when we have so much going on on campus and are so busy during the week, it’s really rewarding once I’m there and I always remind myself of that. There’s a city that’s so close to us that can use our help. I want to contribute by working directly with the city’s residents and aiding them in creating change.
Today’s young people are highly invested in addressing the needs of the city, getting involved, and transforming Detroit. I only hope individuals’ interests in supporting initiatives in the city lead to a healthier and safer community.