By: Hadiyah Muhammad, UM Public Health Graduate Student & MI-YVPC Research Assistant
That is how a youth participant responded when asked to describe Flint in one word during a video interview at the Safe and Healthy Futures Youth Festival on June 9th, 2012. It is this potential to be a safe and healthy community that inspires the work of the Michigan Youth Violence Prevention Center (MI-YVPC). The festival was sponsored by MI-YVPC, the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Flint, and Church Without Walls and became a reality due to the collaborative efforts of these organizations and the other members of the MI-YVPC Steering Committee.
The MI-YVPC Steering Committee (SC) is the reason for the MI-YVPC’s success to date. Our SC is comprised of community organizations and partners that share the same goal of reducing violence among youth aged 10-24 in Flint. Charged with this purpose, the SC meets quarterly to discuss the progress of the six MI-YVPC programs, assess challenges, and offer solutions. With over 30 SC members present at each meeting, we are able to take advantage of expert knowledge about the community and make use of existing community assets to address challenges as they arise and celebrate our victories together. When recruitment proved challenging for the six MI-YVPC programs offered in the Durant-Tuuri-Mott area of Flint, the SC created the Community Outreach & Recruitment Committee (CORC) to raise community awareness of our programs and increase youth participation.
To focus on this outreach effort, the CORC generated ideas for an outreach and recruitment event and eventually settled on a youth festival. With no precedent for hosting a festival, the CORC worked hard to recruit volunteers, schedule performers, organize community organizations to host information booths, and obtain donations to make the event possible.
Over 125 Flint community members and youth attended the festival hosted at Durant-Tuuri-Mott Elementary school. Families and youth learned about the MI-YVPC programs and had the opportunity to talk to representatives from Genesee County Land Bank’s Clean & Green program, the MI-YVPC Community Policing Initiative, the Prevention Research Center of Michigan, the YWCA of Greater Flint, and Connexion. The attendees also enjoyed performances by Flint-based youth groups Raise It Up! Youth Arts & Awareness, the Gamma Delta Kudos and Kappa Leadership League, and Lyrically Elevated from the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Flint. BangTown’s Mobile Studio on the Go was on hand to help the youth participants record a song and a video booth was available to interview youth about their experiences living in Flint.
Building from our SC’s model, we engendered a space of mutual respect, trust, and—most importantly—humor as we planned the first Safe and Healthy Futures Youth Festival.
Click on the following link to view photos, listen to the song recorded by the participants, and watch a short video highlighting the youth performances from the day: http://yvpc.sph.umich.edu/2012/06/01/safe-healthy-futures-youth-festival/