Read insights from our President’s Listening Tour

When We Focus on Children, We All Benefit

The physical conditions of a neighborhood matter to a kid. I remember growing up in a neighborhood where my family did not always feel safe, where I was only able to ride my bike two houses in each direction. It was not until my family moved to a different neighborhood when I was able to ride my bike around freely. The freedom I remember feeling as a kid was incredible as it felt I could go anywhere. My family and I felt safer in that neighborhood and it was reflected in my ability to venture out further.

In thinking of our work at the Foundation where, in partnership with others, we are working to cultivate opportunities for Detroit youth to learn and lead, I reflect on this memory from my childhood and am brought back to how much the physical conditions of a neighborhood matters to the children who live there.

One effort supporting neighborhood development that the Foundation is supporting in partnership with the City of Detroit, Cody Rouge Community Action Alliance, General Motors, DTE Energy, and Quicken Loans is a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) to hire a consultant to develop a child-focused plan for the Warrendale/Cody Rouge neighborhood. This RFQ will be focused on building environments that can positively influence the development of a child by taking into consideration aspects like play, mobility, housing, education, learning, health, and safety. The chosen planner will work with community, in particular youth, to understand what they want. Working with community and youth to make investments that give children a neighborhood they deserve is what excites me about this work.

What could Detroit look like if we put kids first? 

It would be a place where kids have the ability to explore, play, and learn all while being safe. Kids could walk to school and not have to wait for daylight or worry about what is in the abandoned houses they pass. They would feel proud of their surroundings and can see themselves as being a part of their community now and in the future. Having a fun and safe environment would physically show kids how much their community cares about them. It would be a place where kids could ride their bikes and feel safe.

How does focusing on kids and kid issues benefit everyone in the community?

By focusing on kids, our most vulnerable citizens, we can create a space that not only benefits them but benefits whole communities. Making pathways safe for kids to use on their way to school also makes those same pathways safer for all citizens to use. If we enhance parks so they are safe and beneficial for kids, it also creates spaces where other community members can gather. Welcoming places for kids ultimately are welcoming places for all, and that is what makes a community great for families.

Focusing on kids, as the most vulnerable members of our society, benefits all members of a community and creates an environment that is accessible and inviting to all. These benefits can have long-lasting effects for communities as those kids we support ultimately grow into adults that will continue to contribute and improve their communities for future generations.

Learn more about the RFQ here.

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