YEA receives Spirit of Detroit Award for work at 2011 Detroit Green Economy Youth Summit

October 22, 2011

Members of EMEAC's Stand Up Speak Out Program
Young Educator's Alliance from left, Donovan Murray,
Paris Smith, Sabrin Salaam, Raven, Noel Frye and
Anthony Grimmett
DETROIT -- The EMEAC youth group, Young Educators Alliance (YEA), was recently awarded with the Spirit of Detroit Award at City Hall on October 11 for their work at the 2011 Detroit Green Economy Youth Summit in September. YEA team members Siwatu Salama-Ra, Roger Boyd, Paris Smith, Knydra Jefferson, Anthony Grimmett, Donovan Murray, Noel Frye, Elayne Elliot, Sabrin Salam, Malik Harris and Raven Roberts each received certificates in recognition of their volunteer efforts for the event.

“I’m really excited and I think it definitely shows that our work is appreciated and recognized as youth leaders,” said Salama-Ra, EMEAC’s Stand Up Speak Out Program Youth Leader. “I’m real proud of the Young Educators Alliance. It was hard work going to the planning meetings in addition to the actual summit itself. Even though we got in late on the planning, they had a lot of work still to do, so we took a lot of responsibility. We didn’t plan on it that way when we walked in, but we were up to it.”

In addition to their volunteer efforts on the planning committee, the YEA team helped in facilitating events, coordinating entertainment and publicizing the event via social network media. The group said they especially enjoyed bringing their very own flavor of positive energy to the event.

“As far as the summit itself, it was real cool,” Salama-Ra said. “I did some emcee work and I tried my best. We did a little dance thing to break the shells of people. We had the live twitter feed going on. We hash tagged it out and we were almost close to becoming a trending topic on twitter. We didn’t quite get there but that was cool because we had a lot of tweets going out to Detroit Future.”

The Spirit of Detroit Award can be requested from any city council member on behalf of person, event or organization for “outstanding achievement or service to the citizens of Detroit.” The certificates were signed by all nine city council members and awarded at Councilman Ken Cockrel’s office.

DeRaina Stinson and Ahmina
Maxey show their Spirit of
Detroit Awards
“This award shows the commitment of the YEA team to the City of Detroit,” said EMEAC Associate Director Ahmina Maxey who also directs SUSO. “It shows that they are committed to the betterment of their city, and that working through the lens of environmental and social justice, they are raising awareness and creating solutions.”

EMEAC was also presented the award as a sponsor of the summit. Maxey was also recognized for her work on the planning committee.

YEA has worked on several other events since their official formation in June. The YEA led a cleaning up Cass Park, facilitated a Cook Eat Talk community engagement session around food issues at Vanguard Community Development Corporation, held a community mediation session with the North Cass Community Garden around the negative affects of gentrification, and meets regularly on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. to discuss upcoming events.

“They have not only raised their awareness around issues, they are also actively working to be involved,” Maxey said. “Up to this point YEA has gone through the process of learning about environmental, educational, food, and many other justice issues in Detroit.”

In addition to participating in the planning of the 2012 Detroit Green Economy Youth Summit, the YEA team has several other projects planned in the coming months. Upcoming events include a “Feed One Teach One” community meeting around the recent public assistance shut offs affecting numerous families with children in the city and across the state.

“We definitely want to take some actions around the welfare shut offs happening now,” Salama-Ra said. “A lot of us are affected by it. All of us have at least one person in our families who depend on their bridge cards for assistance from the city. We want to take action around that with our Feed One, Teach One event coming up in November.

“We are doing some outreach to community members because we are all one step away. So whether you are homeless, working class, middle class or whatever it may be, we hope people will come out and talk about strategies on how to meet our needs. Whether people needs clothes, shoes, food or whatever, we hope to have something that may help.”