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Detroit Phoenix Center – January 2019 Update

Written by: Courtney Smith, Executive Director, Detroit Phoenix Center

At Detroit Phoenix Center we believe that we can’t effectively do the work that we do without being intentional about engaging the youth we serve in our decision-making processes. Youth voice provides a space for shared leadership and authentic engagement. This is why we have made a commitment to reimagine the Asset Based Resource Center – Zen Zone in conjunction with our Youth Outreach Team.

The funding we are receiving from the NeighborHUB grant is going towards building our Zen Zone: a safe space for homeless youth in the city.

To jumpstart our process of collecting youth feedback, we conducted a focus group with our young leaders and asked them to identify words or concepts that came to mind when they envision a safe, affirming and inviting space.

The words youth used resonated with us loudly, so we took it a step further and decided to host a vision casting session with our young people. We invited an urban planner for the City of Detroit to conduct a lesson on placemaking. She also facilitated the vision casting session with the Youth Outreach Team who was charged with designing an environment that they believed would be responsive to their peers’ needs.

We believe this session to be a critical part of our process due to the feedback we received from our youth afterwards. Looking forward, we hope to continue to engage our youth in every part of the space-creating process: from choosing the colors on the wall to revisiting our policy and procedures manual. This process affirmed that youth-adult partnerships can forge a path of mutual understanding, innovation and creativity.