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Youthville Detroit to open in July

(L-r) Robin Finny, 14; Krystal Barne, 16; and Roy Finny, 13, attend a ceremony April 16 announcing the opening of Youthville Detroit in July.

By Nellie Jefferies Slater
Special to The Michigan Citizen

At a town hall meeting at the New Center One Atrium April 16, Dr. Gerald K. Smith announced that YouthVille Detroit, a Detroit Youth Foundation, will open in July 2005. The facility will serve 11- to 19-year-old youth who will learn new skills, enhance life skills and develop positive peer and adult relationships in a safe environment.

“This is a facility for and about youth,” said Smith, president of DYF, a public charitable foundation started in 1999. “Our partner organizations will work together to give our youth opportunities to become positive leaders. Our youth are coming from all walks of life, different schools, races, cultures.”

Smith, who is also CEO and regional director of the Kellogg Foundation, said Youthville Detroit, located in New Center at Woodward and Lothrup, began with “a vision to build healthy neighborhoods where residents could nurture Detroit youth in a supportive environment, starting with a facility focusing on and planned by youth.”

The project will offer health education, physical fitness, technology training and mentoring, as well as instruction in music, dance, visual and the performing arts. Support for activities at the site include a multi-media studio, cyber café, games and lounge areas, a kitchen, parent meeting room and conference rooms.

Well over 200 youth, families and community organizations attended the town hall meeting.

“I think it’s a good thing to keep kids off the street,” said Robin Finny, 14, who is interested in basketball and musical instruments. “It offers things that can help us in the future — technology — and all the activities they have for us.”

Sixteen-year-old Krystal Barne of Ypsilanti, said, “It’s a good organization for youth, offering good activities so we don’t have to be on the streets with nothing positive to do.”

Roy Finny, 13 and also Ypsilanti, said youth need such programs.

“It’s nice to have things like this, something to open up for kids,” he said.

His father, Mr. Finny, said the program would work if it came up with good ideas to keep young people busy.

“These kids move fast, the programs have to move fast,” he said. “This is the microwave age.”

Reach Youthville Detroit at 313.875.3400 or by visiting


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