For too long, the cries and concerns of our youth have been underrepresented, their ambitions shadowed in systemic obstacles, but organizations like the Franklin Wright Settlements and LifeHikes Foundation are working to change that narrative. They are setting the stage for the next generation, starting right in the heart of the City.
This past week, from June 27th to 29th, 2023, the Youthville Franklin Wright Settlements hosted a transformative three-day seminar. The program, facilitated by the LifeHikes Foundation, focused on enhancing communication skills and fostering a culture of collaboration among high-school students, with two participants as young as 8th grade. These kids are not just the future of Detroit—they are the future of the world.
The seminar’s key objective was to prepare these high-school students with vital life skills, empowering them to become world-class communicators. But it was more than just preparing them for college or the job market—it was about equipping them with the tools to voice their passions, ideas, and visions for a higher purpose.
On the last day of the event, the students showcased their newfound skills and confidence. Each participant delivered a heartfelt two-minute talk about a topic they deeply cared about. Issues ranged from earth conservation, community violence prevention, to the importance of historical preservation in neighborhoods. These are conversations of consequence. The power in their voices, the determination, and the passion were evident—they were standing up for their future and their community.
“Our goal at Franklin Wright is to ensure every child feels seen and heard and has the tools they need to articulate their dreams and goals,” said Monique Marks, MSW, the CEO of Franklin Wright. “These are our future leaders, and through initiatives like the LifeHikes seminar, we are not just teaching them skills, we’re giving them a platform to change the world.”
Such initiatives are more than just workshops—they are about investing in the Black youth of our community, particularly those most in need. We must commend the trailblazing work of Franklin Wright Settlements, a human services organization dedicated to serving youth and seniors. The impact of their partnership with LifeHikes Foundation extends beyond these three days—it seeds hope and fosters resilience for a brighter tomorrow.
Through such events, these organizations are saying loud and clear: ‘We hear you, we see you, and we believe in you.’ Our young people are not merely recipients of our present world—they are active architects of the world to come.
It’s not just about raising strong communicators—it’s about cultivating the leaders and innovators of tomorrow.
Cathy Nedd, a member of the Franklin Wright board, echoed these sentiments. “The impact of this program extends beyond communication skills,” she pointed out. “We are empowering these young minds to believe in themselves, in their abilities to make a difference. As we invest in them, we are investing in the future of Detroit and, indeed, the world.”
Therein lies the real power and impact of these programs – equipping the leaders of tomorrow with the skills they need today. And as these young people grow and find their voices, they will carry these lessons forward, creating a ripple effect that will touch every corner of Detroit and, “indeed, the world.”