East Jefferson SOUP Winner – June 2014

Each of the neighborhood SOUPs focus on the specific needs of that area. The East Jefferson SOUP is no different, as it takes into account the needs of the far Eastside of Detroit. At the very first dinner put on by that neighborhood, Hope Community Outreach and Development presented to the East Jefferson community about the need for funding of the Kids’ Summer Adventure program that they put on every year. The theme for the summer of 2014 was, Y.E.A.H.: Youth Educating and Advocating for Health. Child obesity is an ongoing and widespread problem in Detroit, and the Hope Community was looking to teach kids about ways to live, eat, and be healthy.

One of the leaders, Monique Holliday, explains, “This was our 7th annual summer day camp which focused on improving nutritional, physical, mental, behavioral and spiritual awareness to reduce health disparities amongst the youth in our Jefferson-Chalmers community.  We had 84 youth participants this summer.   They received weekly small and large group lessons centered around nutrition, cooking, gardening, physical activities and exercise, journaling and mural-making, in addition to 6 off-site exponential learning field trips.”

The main priority of the Y.E.A.H. program was to recruit, train, and mobilize 1st through 8th grade youth residing in the Jefferson-Chalmers community about the serious health issues that impact them and their community. Monique says, “The obesity rates among children aged 6-11 years have more than tripled.  The main causes of the epidemic are a decline in physical activity and an increase in intake of high-calorie foods – problems that are especially severe for children in low-income families.”

Because of the money and awareness that winning East Jefferson SOUP brought the Y.E.A.H program, the kids were able to participate in six off-site field trips that changed their perceptions of healthy lifestyles. Monique explains, “Participants were able to obtain first hand experiences to see that living healthy lives both nutritionally and physically, is not only fun, but obtainable.  These field trip opportunities were ideas they could take home to their families and could do in their neighboring communities.”
These included:

  •   CDC Farm and Fishery (Nutritional Education)
  •   Peaches and Greens Produce Market (Nutritional Education)
  •   Vedic Village Education Gardens (Nutritional Education)
  •   Jawor’s Golf Center (Physical Activity)
  •   The Great Skate (Physical Activity)
  •   Belle Isle State Park (Physical Activity)

Although this may only feel like a pocket of Detroit exploring these options with their youth, Monique says it well with, “We must remember:  Healthier youth makes for healthier families, which makes for healthier neighborhoods and communities, which promotes a healthier Detroit!” As these young people learn more about taking care of themselves and their families, that has a resounding impact on their community, which, in turn, has an exponential effect on Detroit as a city. The people at Hope Community Outreach and Development, and the community of East Jefferson, are thankful for the opportunities that SOUP brings to their neighborhoods. Not only is there opportunity to gain funding for important projects, but all of the good work in the area is recognized and discussed by the community as a whole in a democratic forum.

For more information about Hope Community Outreach and Development visit: www.hopedetroit.org

– Joanna Dueweke