Introducing The Skillman Visionary Awards

What Detroit youth want for wellness

Last month, The Skillman Foundation launched its first-ever Youth-Led Wellness Grant opportunity, giving young people the chance to apply for funding to support their own programs to support wellness with their peers. Before we opened the application (which you can find here), we asked young people to share their ideas for programs and what they would need to best implement their ideas.

We received an overwhelming response from over 90 young people, ages nine to 23, who shared their programming ideas and dreams.

We would like to amplify their ideas and share some of the common themes and ideas that our young respondents shared to best support wellness in their communities.

Safe spaces

Several respondents stressed the need for safe spaces for youth to focus on their well-being. Some ideas include quiet rooms in schools where students can reflect on their thoughts and feelings; spaces for youth to meet with counselors and other mental health professionals; and even spaces where they can just congregate with like-minded youth and express themselves.

Almost every suggestion emphasized the need for physical space in which youth can feel safe and welcome—a space that is theirs to utilize for their own wellness, mental health, and relaxation.


A common theme among many of the responses was the importance of athletics for both physical and mental wellness. From baseball to basketball, football to lacrosse, bowling to skateboarding, many young people emphasized the importance of letting kids get out and play.

In addition to the physical health benefits of physical activity, respondents noted the social and emotional benefits of sports programs, like building confidence, working in teams, and being surrounded by caring adults.

Creative expression

Young people know the benefits of creative expression through art, music, writing, and other mediums. It was evident in our survey responses that the arts are an important avenue for youth to express themselves for their mental well-being.

From art rooms to recording and dance studios, young people want spaces that allow them to share their thoughts and emotions through different media. The arts are vital in the social and mental wellness of our youth.

Serving communities

Many respondents shared their ideas about community service to support wellness. If you help young people create safe, beautiful, and caring communities, it can help with their social and emotional well-being and build pride in where they live.

Some ideas include community clean-ups, neighborhood gardens, and programs to provide food, clothing, and other basic needs for kids and other community members who need it. Social and emotional wellness is a journey, and it’s one that can start right in a young person’s own backyard.

We encourage young people and the adults who work with them to check out our Youth-Led Wellness Grant opportunity. Applications close on May 27.

Lindsey Barrett

Lindsey Barrett is a partnership manager of Ground Building with The Skillman Foundation. She leads the Foundation’s efforts to build power with Detroit youth.

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