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Young and old learn from each other in Detroit’s green space

Detroit‘s Clark Park has offered young people opportunities to grow and learn from community elders for generations. Student Reporting Labs fellow Evan Gulock took a close look at this vital community asset for Detroit Public Television.

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  • GWEN IFILL:

    And finally, we bring you a last blast of summer from the southwest corner of Detroit.

    For generations, Clark Park has offered young people opportunities to grow and learn from community leaders and passionate mentors.

    Student Reporting Labs fellow Evan Gulock produced this story while interning at Detroit Public Television.

  • MAN:

    For this community, this is our Central Park. A lot of people call it the pearl.

  • WOMAN:

    Our park is the best kept secret in Detroit. It's a jewel for everybody that comes.

  • ZIGGY GONZALEZ, Co-Founder, Clark Park Coalition:

    We didn't know if we were going to be successful in keeping it open without the city's help. But we did it that first year. And I think the city got the message after that. They had closed seven other parks, the state closed, and they noticed Clark Park was different, because the community went to bat for the park.

  • ANTHONY BENAVIDES, Executive Director, Clark Park:

    So we were running a program here after school and during the summer, youth programs, here at Clark Park.

    There's always been baseball here at Clark Park for over a hundred years. And since then, we have added tennis, lacrosse, a garden program. I'm trying to say, hey, listen, guys, while you're playing, recreating, guess what, school is right around the corner. What are we going to do here?

    Graduation rates at Western High School, which is right behind us here, in Southwest Detroit has improved dramatically. And we see it every day with our kids. Every semester, more and more kids are graduating from high school.

    We have programs for kids that are thinking about going to college. We help them with their ACT exams, prepare them for their tests or SAT exams. We also take them on college tours within Michigan.

  • BELICIA FLORES, Student:

    I want to get looked at by, like, a lot of colleges already. Clark Park has helped me in more ways than I can imagine. Like, Clark Park is who I am.

  • MAN:

    Yes, I still feel that the reason I'm still here at age 84 is to help these children out and to keep them away from drugs and gangs, and to give them a positive option in life. We want them to go to college and make something of their lives.

  • STUDENT:

    Everybody around here is so supportive, and they want you to do good. And they want you to succeed. And it's like — it's good feeling knowing that there's people that actually care.

  • MAN:

    Good job. Good job.

  • WOMAN:

    The older girls teach the younger girls. And the younger girls, they teach the itty-bitty girls, as I call them. So, everybody is a work in progress here. And nobody is to be denied anything.

  • HERIBERTO GALLEGOS, Clark Park:

    Whether it's ethnic diversity or economic diversity, they just want to be a part of the community. There's no amount of money in the world that can give you that sense, that feeling, that family.

  • MAN:

    That's all you want is to be given that opportunity to better your life. There's no place I would rather be than at Clark Park.

    The Student Reporting Labs program, including Evan Gulock's internship at Detroit Public Television was made possible by a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the American Graduate: Let's Make it Happen initiative.

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