NEIGHBORS: EAST SIDE: KELLY-MORANG

Eastwood Block Party Celebrates Children

About 100 children and adults gathered for an Eastwood Block Party that served up fun, food and information.  The April 27 event not only kicked off the block club, it marked a celebration of the neighborhood’s children.

And it’s one of the ways a citywide initiative is promoting the health and wellness of Detroit’s children by driving home the name and mission of the organization: Hope Starts Here.

The Eastwood Block Club Party was organized by Hope Starts Here volunteer Theresa Mitchell, who has lived on the block since 2010.  She wanted to do something for the children of the community.

“Hope Starts Here: Day of the Young Child was the opportunity for us to organize our Eastwood Block Club, from Kelly to Morang,” said Mitchell, 37, mother of Ethan, 5, and Eva, 3. “ When I moved here nine years ago there were three little kids and five older kids on the block.  Since then, we have over 30 children under the age of 8.”

“The importance of a block club is to bring the neighbor back into hood and rebuilding the village,” said Mitchell, who works for the parent empowerment group, Detroit Parent Network. “ When we get out of our homes and meet and greet each other and show love for our neighbors we can begin to rebuild that village.”

The block party, which lasted from noon to 4 p.m., featured informational vendors, face painting for children, bounce houses, games, music and dancing.

Each child received a Hope Starts Here motivational t-shirt, free book bags and books.

Promoting literacy is a major part of Hope Starts Here’s 2019 focus.

Kenneth Chapman, Jr., 8, who was there with his dad, Kenneth, Sr. especially enjoyed the face-painting. “I’m Batman, and I’ll be running around here eating hot dogs and having fun,” Kenneth, Jr., said.

In addition to the party, Mitchell and other Hope Starts Here volunteers make door-to-door visits to encourage families to become Hope Starts Here households—meaning they commit to encouraging reading and positive thinking and activities in their homes.

Mitchell organized the block party to support Hope Starts Here.

“HSH means to me, we are the champions for children 0-8 years old,” she said. “There is a state law that requires kids to be held back if they don’t pass the 3rd grade (MEAP) reading test, so it’s important to me that we be champions for our children earlier than 3rdgrade.”

Fred Moore, one of the first African Americans to buy a home on Eastwood in 1989, was among the neighbors supporting the event.

“Neighborhood is important because we need the village to raise children and this was an area where I felt the village could be created for my children,” Moore said.

Dinetta King, who has lived on Eastwood for 13 years ,also praised the event.

“It’s important to get to know your neighbors,” she said. “HSH gives us the opportunity to do that and a reason to talk, speak and meet our neighbors and talk about children. This helps bring us together.”

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