Thousands of young people converged on Belle Isle last week for the 33rd annual Metro Detroit Youth Day festivities which took plave on the island’s athletic fields. An estimated 1,600 volunteers were on hand to help coordinate the massive event, which has become a much-anticipated tradition over the years.
“Metro Detroit Youth Day is about people and organizations working together to provide kids on summer break a fun-filled day out of the house and participating in supervised, constructive activities with their peers,” said Ed Deeb, co-founder and chairman of Metro Detroit Youth Day. “Youth Day is a catalyst for channeling children’s energy in a positive manner while emphasizing sportsmanship, education, fair play and leadership.”
Billed as the largest single-day youth event in the region, Metro Detroit Youth Day has expanded since its beginning to provide sports clinics, educations stations, entertainment and a variety of workshops designed to put young people on a constructive path by focusing on such topics as anti-bullying, anti-crime, health and wellness, as well as entrepreneurship. This year children were invited to sing, dance, and otherwise showcase their performance skills at the Youth Day Idol Contest. The Detroit Opera House Children’s Chorus also gave a special performance, and the Michigan State University Jazz Trio was on hand to perform.
The history of Metro Detroit Youth Day is best described on their own website:
Not only is it a tradition youngsters look forward to each year, but this event united a community and brought peace and tranquility to Detroit following altercations in 1980 between youth and area retailers on Livernois Ave. between Six and Seven Mile Roads. Then mayor Coleman A. Young met with community leaders to calm tensions, and Ed Deeb met with retailers urging them to be more sensitive to customers to help restore calm. The Mayor asked Ed to “do something” to help resolve the problem.
The idea for Metro Detroit Youth Day, the largest youth event in Michigan, which has drawn over 800,000 youngsters over the years was born. Founders Ed Deeb, the late Tom Fox and the late Jerry Blocker, formulated the goal of bringing together metro Detroit area youth from all walks of life for a day of sports, fun, and constructive activities, and to show youngsters that business people, the community and the food industry cared about them and respect them.
This event has grown annually from some 1,100 participants the first year to more than 34,000 youth in 2013. Originally, the goal was to help foster goodwill and harmony. But in 1991 Metro Youth Day became more than fun and games. It was expanded to include youth guidance, mentors, role models, anti-substance abuse activity, motivational speakers, entertainment, awarding and average of 80 more scholarships yearly, and honoring outstanding students for academic excellence and community service.
Looking forward to next year!