By Charlie Kadado
For the past 31 years, Metro Detroit Youth Day has welcomed young people for a day of fun, guidance, and positive encouragement. On Wednesday, despite scorching heat, thirty-four thousands kids participated in the event.
In 1980, a series of deadly confrontations between teens and business owners led Mayor Coleman Young to seek help from Ed Deeb, the President and CEO of the Michigan Food and Beverage Association.
Deeb was asked to calm ongoing disputes between businesses and the community. In 1981, he hosted the first Youth Day, which brought in only 1,100 kids.
“We were going to call it quits until someone said to give it one more try. Well the one more try meant 10,000 kids, so we kept it going,” Deeb said.
Today, Detroit youngsters have been looking forward to coming each year.
“(Youth Day) keeps kids having fun and their minds off video games and TV,” says 9-year old Cree Williams, a student from Walker-Winter Elementary School in Westland.
Several special events were set-up for the youth, including an entertainment stage, dozens of games, and activities that promote healthy-living.
“We have all kinds of sports clinics: tennis, golf, football, basketball, martial arts. You name it, we’ve got it,” adds Deeb.
Dignitaries were also present to promote the positive message.
“If we do not change the trajectory of our young people’s lives, nothing we do today is going to have a major impact on them,” began Councilman James Tate. “We’re not going to see a big change in the city of Detroit until we change young people’s lives.”
Even after Youth Day ended, Ed Deeb still beamed from ear to ear, enthusiastic about another successful year.
"Our aim was to motivate kids to do the most good -- to inspire them. To go to college, finish, get your degree, come back to Detroit and try to make Detroit a better place."
To learn more information about Metro Detroit Youth Day visit www.youth-day.com.