In Northeast Detroit, just south of Eight Mile Road, lies a neighborhood called Denby, a once thriving community that has struggled with vacancy, blight, and crime. But by putting youth leadership at the center of its revitalization efforts, Denby is becoming a greener, more vibrant and sustainable community.
In 2013, longtime resident and MEC Community Engagement Director Sandra Turner-Handy encouraged the local high school to assign a capstone project designed to empower young people to be active players in revitalizing their neighborhoods.
The senior class was tasked with identifying a neighborhood challenge and designing a solution. Out of 200 submissions, one proposal rose to the top -- the need for a safe outdoor space that would provide recreational opportunities for everyone. The students decided to renovate Skinner Park, a largely abandoned park adjacent to Denby High School.
After securing funding and a partnership with Life Remodeled and other foundations, Skinner Park has been transformed into an amenity-rich community greenspace -- a shining example of how we can take abandoned land and blighted properties and transform them into green spaces.