Introducing The Skillman Visionary Awards

Downtown Boxing Gym Youth Program


The Expansion of the Whole Student Wellness program at DBG will work to support wellness implementation of the following strategies:

1. Continuing to provide in-person cooking classes with expansion of curriculum and age-targeted programming. Under the pilot Seeded at the Table program, DBG partnered with the Detroit Food Academy (DFA), to implement innovative, bi-weekly health and wellness workshops with a focus on (1) basic nutrition and (2) cooking essentials and food safety and handling. However, due to COVID safety restrictions, DBG can no longer host DFA onsite. In her role as DBG’s Health and Wellness Coordinator, Shaquana Suggs, worked alongside DFA this past year and helped to facilitate the classes. Due to this experience and her professional background in catering and kitchen management, Ms. Suggs will run DBG’s cooking classes going forward. Moreover, due to the wide range of ages, and based on feedback from its pilot program, DBG intends to present a “layered” curriculum to ensure student engagement and interest. A layered curriculum allows for grouping of assignments and tasks that represents different depths of study and will accommodate the various ages of students without requiring fully separate lesson plans.

2. Provide healthy life skills principles utilizing themes of wholesome ingredients, nutrition, consumer awareness, groceries, and gardening. Students will learn to budget for their meals and groceries- track spending, make grocery lists, use coupons, and prioritize purchases. DBG will also present lessons on meal planning and prepping, reading, and understanding food labels, nutrition facts, and food marketing terms.

3. Work with DBG’s STEAM lab and program director to develop complementary food science, nutrition, and wellness programming. Staying true to its roots as a program that focuses on athletics and academics, DBG will teach students about the effects of food on athletic performance, how to optimize energy and the positive results a healthy lifestyle has on the human body. Urban gardening initiatives to connect the science of biology and its role in agriculture to the chemistry of cooking and science of nutrition, will also be implemented.

4. Provide social emotional learning (SEL) activities to our students. Many DBG students have dealt with incredible trauma over the past few months–loss of loved ones to COVID, job loss for themselves and family members, and are struggling with financial and food insecurity. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “many adolescents’ social, emotional and mental well-being has been impacted by the pandemic. Trauma faced at this developmental stage may have long-term consequences across their lifespan.” Additionally, the May 2020 death of George Floyd, which sparked mass protests around the world and highlighted our country’s ongoing struggle with racial and social justice, deeply affected DBG students. Just over 95% of DBG students are African American and identify with the victims of police brutality and social injustice. As a result, DBG offers mental health support through daily 1:1 check-ins and homeroom mentorships. Students are also exposed to SEL activities such as “Pass the Feelings Ball”, daily journaling, and captioning pictures and deciphering the outcomes of that story in open discussion. Amidst the expansion of the Whole Student Wellness program, DBG will further explore social-emotional issues associated with food and nutrition, such as emotional eating and how nutritious eating can affect the way one feels about oneself. Overall, DBG will focus SEL activities on behavior, self-control, and socially appropriate responses, which DBG believes this is an important component of wellness, health, and balance.

It is important to note that DBG students attend schools that often lack the resources needed to provide enrichment programming, including cooking lessons, nutrition classes, gardening, financial planning, and exposure to the ways their community is exploring health and wellness. Through expansion of DBG’s Whole Student Wellness platform, the goal is to engage our boys and girls with regularly scheduled hands-on activities and robust curriculum to grow their knowledge of food, nutrition, health, and wellness. As DBG continues to build foundational programming that supports whole-person wellness, through athletics, academics, mentorship, intervention, and social-emotional learning, this project is a vital component to DBG’s primary goal of training kids for life.

Further, by providing students with educational enrichment, life skills and whole-person wellness programming, DBG fosters the skills, confidence, and experience students need to have increased life choices and be competitive in their careers and future. Additionally, DBG strives to give students the capacity for an overall higher quality of life that is associated with improved health, nutrition, and stress management. By sustaining and strengthening health and wellness operations, this project will ensure that DBG students are balanced, equipped to succeed, and achieve representation in today’s world.