One of the highlights of summer for more than 35,000 youngsters from the Metro Detroit area is the annual Metro Detroit Youth Day (MDYD). This year, the event for children will celebrate its 32nd anniversary on July 9 at Belle Isle Park from 8:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
It is the largest youth event in Michigan, according to Ed Deeb, co-founder and coordinator of the event and founder of the Michigan Food and Beverage Association, a main sponsor of MDYD.
Metro Youth Day was started following altercations between youth and Detroit merchants in the summer of 1980. Deeb said the event was created to show youngsters that businesses, the community and civic organizations care about them.
“Metro Detroit Youth Day is a success story about people and organizations working together for harmonious community relations,” Deeb said. “When Metro Detroit Youth Day was formed in 1980, we had 1,100 youngsters who were supervised by about 100 volunteers. In 2013, we had 34,000 youngsters who attended Metro Detroit Youth Day.”
Today, more than 340 community and youth organizations participate in Metro Youth Day, including more than 220 businesses, civic organizations and government agencies as sponsors.
Sports stars, government officials, media celebrities and others attend the event and provide upbeat messages and encouragement.
“The fun-filled day gives kids a chance to enjoy time away from home in the middle of summer while participating in supervised, constructive activities, with 1,600 volunteers helping and supervising,” Deeb said. “The day emphasizes sportsmanship, education, fair play and leadership.”
Youth Day is a catalyst in channeling children’s energy in a positive and constructive setting. Special games and activities also are included for the growing number of disabled or handicapped youngsters participating.
In addition, Metro Detroit Youth Day will feature young entertainers from various schools as well as the 5th annual Metro Detroit Youth Day Youth Idol Contest.
Lunch is provided by Michigan food industry companies and members of the Michigan Food and Beverage Association.
“Today, we are more than fun and games,” Deeb said. “Originally, the goal was to offer games and inspire goodwill and harmony.”
Following receipt of the Presidential Point of Light Award (No. 477) in 1991, MDYD became more serious and was expanded to include youth guidance, mentors, role models, anti-substance abuse activities, motivational speakers, entertainment and awarding 60 or more college scholarships to graduating high school seniors each year. To date, more than 1,000 scholarships have been awarded to area graduating high school seniors.
Metro Detroit Youth Day also honors non-seniors from area metro Detroit high schools for academic achievement and community service each year.
Youth 8-15 years of age may participate in various sports clinics, contests, races and entertainment and visit the education area, including College Row, where 14 universities will be represented. In addition, there will be mini-workshops on anti-bullying, fighting crime, anti-obesity and entrepreneurship.
“When we help and work with our kids, we provide meaning to their lives and service to humanity, which I feel is the best work of life,” Deeb said. “We want to inspire our youth to do the most good in a crime-free environment.”
To learn how to participate in the future as organizations, volunteers, sponsors or to register youth, contact MFBA at 586-393-8801 or visit metrodetroityouthday.com.
In the feature photo at top: Ed Deeb, co-founder and coordinator of Metro Detroit Youth Day and founder of the Michigan Food and Beverage Association, stands next to Sparty, the Michigan State University Spartans mascot.