Initiative in Detroit to encourage kids to get outdoors

Evan Carter
The Detroit News

Detroit — An initiative announced Wednesday morning will encourage the city’s youth to play, learn, serve and work outdoors, growing them into good stewards of the country’s natural resources, officials said.

Projects in Detroit are yet to be announced.

“The idea, ultimately, is to get kids (outside) and to build our future stewards of public lands,” said Tracy Muckey of the YMCA of the USA.

Representatives from the U.S. Department of the Interior, YMCA of Metro Detroit and Mayor Mike Duggan’s Office announced Detroit’s participation Wednesday at a press conference at Milliken State Park. The initiative is in conjunction with the national Let’s Move! effort to get youth outside.

Detroit is one of 26 cities announced this year, with 24 more to be announced Jan. 1.

The initiative is funded by $5 million from the American Express Foundation, organized nationally through Let’s Move!, the Interior Department and YMCA USA, and will be facilitated by local YMCA facilities.

Metro Detroit’s YMCAs will work with local organizations to get children outside in public spaces and also to encourage them to volunteer. After Wednesday’s press conference, many of the YMCA’s volunteers left to complete a service project cleaning up the Dequindre Cut.

Muckey said the initiative hopes to get 20,000 Metro Detroiters to volunteer at public spaces during the next two years.

Kristen Sarri, principal deputy assistant secretary at the Department of the Interior, said the initiative will create jobs.

Detroit’s director of youth services, Shawn Blanchard, was excited about what this initiative will mean for Detroit youths.

“We’re so excited to come together and have these types of collaborations because this is how things get done,” he said.