Friday, August 2, 2013

Detroit Millennials: Making Moves with the Better Detroit Youth Movement


Detroit Millennials: Making Moves with the Better Detroit Youth Movement

Hey Millennials, remember the good ol’ days?   You know, before the “Great Recession” made our lives difficult and uncertain?   Before we had to worry about chasing “The American Dream,” even if it meant drowning ourselves in history-making student loan debt?  

That’s right.  I’m talking about the glorious days that were the 90′s.  Back when Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network and others were still airing cartoons good enough to keep us out of trouble.  When the media was showing us educational programming like Bill Nye the Science Guy and the Genie’s “Great Minds Think for Themselves” segment on One Saturday Morning.  Or even when the music on the radio was actually…good!
I remember those days almost like it was yesterday.  And call me crazy, but I had the wildest imagination as a kid.  My deep-rooted love for sports had me playing the role of commissioner on several occasions.  From my NFL checkers league (long story) to the three-team flag football league I started through the school when I was in fourth grade, I never saw an end to what I could be or thought about my limitations.  And I’m pretty sure most of you were the same way.

So where exactly am I going with this, other than I may have been slightly different as a child?  To me it’s simple: as kids, we were all free to imagine a world where we were free to be whoever we wanted, whatever we wanted, and wherever we wanted.

However, once the student loan debt starting kicking in we started straying away from what we really wanted to be and started settling more for what we need to be.  It’s really unfortunate because life can be pretty short, and every person deserves at least one chance to do something they’re passionate about.

Thankfully, here in Detroit there is one place I know where Millennials like you and me have a chance at finding their true passion while receiving the kind of support it takes to stay with it and see it through.  Since 2008, the Better Detroit Youth Movement (BDYM) has served as a place and organization, where youth who have the desire to do great things in the city come together with other like-minded individuals to make achieve their goals and make a positive impact in the community.

As a 501(c)3 non-profit, the BDYM provides options and opportunities through communication with Detroit’s youth service providers in order to improve the city’s quality of life and learning for its children.  To do this, BDYM sponsors and hosts events like the Million Father March, Stomping Out HIV Resource Fair, an annual fall scholarship fair, and others that are primarily coordinated through Millennial leaders.

Here are some of the success stories crafted by the BDYM:

Reginald Anthony (23) – Mr. Anthony (or “Reggie” as I like to call him) serves as the youth advisory board leader at the BDYM, where he coordinates activities with youth ages 13-21 and gets them involved with the organization’s leadership opportunities.  In June, Reggie put together the Stomping Out HIV resource fair and poetry slam at Don Bosco Hall on the city’s west side.  Thanks to BDYM, Reggie was successfully able to bring together dozens of vendors and rising spoken word artists to raise awareness of HIV in the community.  Those in attendance were treated to heart-wrenching stories, solid poetry, and free hot dogs and drinks on a beautiful Saturday afternoon.

Austin Crutchfield (21) – Thanks to BDYM, Austin was able to start his own clothing line, “Detroit on Deck.”  Austin started Detroit on Deck using the primary colors of purple and gold as an nod to BDYM co-director Harlan “Jay” Bivens (35), and for the positive impact he’s made in the city and its youth.  With Detroit on Deck, Austin’s not just out to make money by selling clothes.  In fact, all of Detroit on Deck’s proceeds go towards feeding the homeless, which Austin and the BDYM do once every month.  By doing this, Austin sets the tone for youth entrepreneurship for other BDYM members and creates a movement where others learn to be self-sustaining while giving back to others.

Keira Cooley (29) – Keira, aka “Ms. Ke,” is one of the leaders behind BDYM’s female mentoring program, Girls Leaning on Women – G.L.O.W.  Through her work with Jay’s barber shop as a hair stylist, Ms. Ke has been involved with BDYM for nearly a year.  As a native Detroiter, Ms. Ke understands the value in serving as a role model other young women in the city.  Originally she wanted to start her own female mentoring group, but once she learned about BDYM’s existing group G.L.O.W. it made more sense for her to become one of the driving forces in getting it back to being active.  With the help of BDYM, Ms. Ke has been able to get the G.L.O.W. blog up and running, while continuing to actively recruit other mentors and potential members.

These are only a few of the success stories that come from the BDYM, and there are many more that are continuous works in progress.  No matter how long it takes each of these stories to come to fruition, the BDYM provides a support system where each member learns to help others while also helping themselves.  So, like our childhood, the BDYM serves as a place where, with the right amount of work ethic, you can still be whoever you want to be, whatever you want to be, and wherever you want to be; even when society is trying to tell you otherwise.

Cedric Brown
More than a publicist, Cedric Brown is a marketing communications artist who works with small businesses and non-profit organizations on their marketing and public relations efforts. Utilizing his writing and social media skills, Cedric contributes to his community by telling stories of hope for the people and organizations that make the city of Detroit great. When he’s not spreading the good news, Cedric works full-time as a communications manager for a small private company.
Cedric graduated from Northwood University in May 2011 with honors, earning his bachelors of business administration (B.B.A.) in marketing and management. In the long run, Cedric looks forward to becoming one of the next great minds in marketing communications and empowering movements. For now, he’ll just make the most out of life as an ordinary brother out to do extraordinary things.

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