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“Make it less scary” - that’s what a 12-year-old wrote Saturday when asked what he wanted for Detroit. Other youths wrote similar hopes, such as “Detroit needs to be more safe” and “A lot less crime.”

The youths were among 15 city residents who teamed up with Detroit Police officers to participate in a one-day program called “Pictures of Hope”. The youths are all active in the Detroit Police Athletic League, PAL, and they met with the officers at PAL headquarters, 111 Willis Street, to take a brief photo lesson by Linda Solomon, an award-winning photojournalist and author.

The youths were given free Samsung WB50F digital cameras, donated by Walgreens. On Saturday afternoon, the youths were going to drive around the city for one hour with the officers to show them their views of the city. The program is meant to encourage smoother relations with local police as well as bolstering the voice of the youths.

“Every child deserves to know their heartfelt hopes and dreams matter,” Solomon said. Solomon is founder of the Pictures of Hope program and she has worked with children, many living in shelters, in at least a dozen cities.

Detroit remains too dangerous for many youths, data shows. A Detroit News study last year found the city has the highest death rate among large U.S. cities for children from birth through age 18, due to high infant mortality rate combined with a high homicide rate. Violence is the second-biggest killer of Detroit youths, the study found.

The photographs taken by the Detroit youths will be unveiled Nov. 10 during a ceremony at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, 315 East Warren Avenue. Some of the photos will then be available to purchase by the public. The proceeds will benefit Detroit PAL. Over 12,000 area youths participate in various PAL programs, the non-profit said.

laguilar@detroitnews.com

Twitter: LouisAguilar_DN

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