Metro Detroit Youth Day (MDYD) is one day away and the kids and I are excited to attend the big annual event! This year will mark thirty-six years for Michigan’s largest youth day event. Can you believe it?!
It will be our first time attending MDYD (because we’re kinda new here, remember?). I was trying to think of how to best describe to my kids what the event is all about. I told the kids, “Think of it as one giant field day except there will be thousands of kids there playing at Belle Isle.” That did the trick because as soon as I said field day, their eyes lit up. Who doesn’t love a big field day, right?
Over the weekend, we made a family trip to Belle Isle to explore the island and play at the river beach. Travis and I took the kids to the Athletic Fields to show them where MDYD will be held. I think to see the location of the youth day site made the event even more real to them. The kids can’t wait to attend their first MDYD!
I also showed Travis and the kids the new street sign at the Athletic Fields: “Edward Deeb Avenue”. Formerly called Vista Way, the street was named after Edward Deeb, Detroit business leader and community liaison. Mr. Deeb has dedicated more than 50 years to bridging the gap between local business owners and the community, including co-founding Metro Detroit Youth Day with the late Tom Fox and Jerry Blocker.
In 1981, there was an unfortunate altercation between retailers and youth on Detroit’s west side between Six and Seven Mile Roads. According to the MDYD website, “then mayor Coleman A. Young met with community leaders too calm tensions and asked Ed Deeb to meet with retailers urging them to be more sensitive to customers to help restore calm. He asked Ed to ‘do something to help resolve the problem.'”
Mr. Deeb, Mr. Fox, and Mr. Blocker established MDYD to show the youth that business people and the community respected them. In the youth’s honor, Metro Detroit Youth Day became an annual event. Last year, more than 35,000 young people attended MDYD and 100 college scholarships were awarded to graduating high school seniors!
Mr. Deeb has worked hard on Metro Detroit Youth Day. Aside from being one of the co-founders of the organization, he also wrote the background for the organization, written the news releases, and promoted the youth scholarships. I’d say it only seems fitting to name the street at the MDYD site after him!
Belle Isle Street Dedicated to Edward Deeb
On Friday, I attended Mr. Deeb’s ceremony of the new street sign and it was a lovely event. It was such an honor to be invited to the ceremony and learn more about Mr. Deeb’s great work in Detroit and with Metro Detroit Youth Day.
During the ceremony, Mr. Deeb said, “We began our Metro Detroit Youth Day program here on this Athletic Field 36 years ago. All of us at the time in addition to myself were Tom Fox, Jerry Blocker, Lem Barney, and all of you who I feel deserve to share in this high honor.”
“We have had nearly 2 million youngsters, sponsors, volunteers, colleges, sports teams, the Department of Natural Resources and many government officials who helped make this a success, along with the athletic field. I share this honor and street with all of them. In the beginning of the establishment of MDYD, the main goal was to ‘inspire our youth to do the most good’, stay out of trouble, stay in school, and become our future leaders.”
Mr. Deeb was very honored to have the street named after him saying “I am overwhelmed by having a street named after me. It is truly an honor.” He and his wife Joanne expressed their gratitude to the community during the ceremony and took the time to speak with guests. I briefly spoke with Mr. Deeb to ask him about how he felt about being honored with the street name dedication:
“I was overwhelmed. I knew they were going to do a good job, but boy, they exceeded whatever I expected. DNR’s a great organization. They know how to make things right. If you go around Belle Isle it’s so clean. It’s beautiful. Ten years ago, you’d never want to come to Belle Isle and now you want to be here. And that’s what they’ve done. They’re all doing a really good job.”
Register for Metro Detroit Youth Day!
There’s still time to register for Metro Detroit Youth Day if you’d like to attend. Visit www.metrodetroityouthday.org for more details.
Metro Detroit Youth Day will be held on Wednesday, July 11th at the Athletic Fields on Belle Isle from 8:30 a.m. to p.m.
Hope to see you this Wednesday!
Feature image by Jennifer Hamra