Gail Rosenbloom Kaplan is a local artist with international fame. Her work spans multiple mediums but eight years ago Gail got the itch to step out of her studio and start working in the community. Children’s Hospital of Michigan came calling.
Gail: They said we have an opportunity for you for an artist to work in the hospital with pediatric patients. It feels natural because I work a lot with kids.
So, two days a week Gail sets up a mini studio at Children’s Hospital of Michigan. The response has been overwhelming.
Gail: For the population of kids I am working with this is like super exciting and for the kids to have a reason to get out of their bed and to walk down the hall to have fun rewarding for me and for them as well and here it was using art as the venue to communicate and a reason to talk. When the kids are sitting there they forget where they are and so do I.
Gail offers two types of artistic projects – painting on a t-shirt or sand art on a sticky board. The kids get to choose their design and with Gail’s help they immerse themselves in the world of art.
Mitch: What is it about art that you feel is healing especially for children?
Gail: Well what’s healing about it is it gives them the opportunity not just to do a project but to deal with being in the hospital and having just something to focus on other than their illness. They feel empowered by it and they leave and they are excited that they have done something new and it’s just a total rewarding job and as an artist I feel super gratified.
Gail Rosenbloom Kaplan is showing the true healing power of art right here in the heart of Detroit.
Achieving a high school diploma is the goal of women at Mercy Education Project. Here, the Sister’s of Mercy offer southwest Detroit “Moms” the chance to finish their education.
Mitch: What would you say is the biggest two reasons that women in our area don’t finish high school?
Johnnetta: They have a lot of barriers transportation is a barrier and child care is a barrier.
Kathy: But at a certain point usually when the children get into school then they realize ok I need to do something about this.
And that’s where Mercy Education Project comes in. Classes in math, language arts, social studies and science are offered, all free of charge. It’s a no pressure environment at this all women’s school.
Kathy: So they get to be themselves they are with other women who are all supportive of each other.
Johnnetta: The students that we get a lot of times they were in other programs and they said it just didn’t work for them but when they came to Mercy Education Project they were like this is home.
To date over 200 women have received their GED. But GED does not mean E-N-D.
Johnnetta: Whether you want to go to college the workforce directly or into a training program what we are doing is tailor making a program for them.
Which helps each student build a foundation for a brighter future following graduation.
Kathy: Typically we will have anywhere in between eight to 20 or 24 students who will be graduating.
Mitch: I bet they appreciate the diplomas more than the average high school student?
Kathy: Oh yes those were well earned.
Mercy Education Project is breaking down the barriers to education right here in the heart of Detroit.
That buzzing you hear is the sound of honey bees hard at work. Detroiters Timothy Paule Jackson and Nicole Lindsay fell in love with all things “Bee” when Tim had trouble kicking a nasty cold.
Tim: And I was trying everything to shake the cough and until I came across the power of local raw honey and after consuming that I noticed a big difference in my health.
Supply for local raw honey in Detroit is scarce so the pair figured they could do something about it.
Tim: Instead of going hours and hours away to look for a bee farm we thought we would bring it right to the city. We have so many vacant lots that have so many different types of wildflowers these are great places for pollinators.
Nicole: There isn’t people who are spraying chemicals or getting rid of their weeds but at Detroit Hives we believe weeds is the bees knees
Mitch: You two are just too cute
All joking aside Detroit is a prime location for hive production. Today Detroit Hives has 32 hives occupying seven lots on the city’s East Side with each hive producing about 50 pounds of honey in a single year. That’s a lot of honey and they hope to keep expanding.
Tim: We plan to increase our hive projection from 32 hives now to 200 hives by year 2022. We plan to revitalize 45 properties in the city of Detroit and lastly we plan to establish a learning center where we can educate the community all year round about the importance of honey bee conservation but also a place where we can sell our honey and local bee products.
Nicole: Detroit has been boosting the native bee population so through our studying and learning about bees that we knew that Detroit would be the place to “bee”.
Tim/Nicole:Pretty much the place to be.
It just never gets old. Timothy Paule Jackson and Nicole Lindsey are buzzing with excitement for bees right here in the heart of Detroit.
Johnathon Matthews grew up on the city’s west side. He was a star student with dreams of becoming a lawyer. But those plans changed when he learned that violence knows no bounds.
Johnathan: I went to a party and ended up getting shot on the college campus and nearly lost my life. This was happening every day in Detroit I had never really understood it.
What he did understand is that change was necessary and how better to affect change than working directly with inner city kids as Principal of Pershing High School.
Johnathan: The first thing you see when you go into an inner city neighborhood is this lack of hope and when there’s lack of hope there’s a lack of purpose. It just blew me away that there is young people that just didn’t see a purpose in life.
So he and other school administrators got to work restructuring overcrowded high schools to give students the chance to find their purpose.
Johnathon: The main goal was to shrink schools into a point where every child felt like there was a caring adult someone that they can attach to and we knew that that couldn’t happen with two thousand students in one large urban high school.
Smaller schools were created and the students were divided into cohorts of 25. From 9th grade to graduation these students shared every class and became a family. Violence dropped and graduation rates soared.
Mitch: Did you ever stop to think what your life would be If you had not gotten shot?
Johnathan: I grew up trying to think about just being quote on quote successful and now I feel like my life does have a purpose.
And that purpose is to inspire his students every day right here in the heart of Detroit.
With his cart piled high, Nicholas Kristock is delivering blankets at Detroit Children’s Hospital. He started this mission after receiving a text message from his twin sister, a nurse, which said…
Mitch: Why is there such a shortage of blankets?
Nick: A lot of people probably don’t know that 30,000 times a year in our state of Michigan a child will walk into a hospital room and be greeted by this plain white hospital bed.
So Nicholas created the solution: a non-profit called Fleece & Thank You, where volunteers come together to create a warm and colorful blanket for every hospitalized child who wants one. That’s the Fleece part. As for the Thank You …
Nick: Each blanket we deliver also comes with a personal video message from the person that made it to the child that receives it and the child can see that message and send a message back to the blanket maker.
Mitch: And how many blankets have you made now?
Nick: To date we’ve made about 55,000 blankets
Hosting 400 events a year, Fleece & Thank You travels all over the state, bringing blanket making opportunities to hundreds of volunteers. The goal this year is 30,000 blankets.
Nick: We’ll make sure that every single kid gets this piece of comfort on their bed.
Mitch: Now do they get to go home with their blanket?
Nick: They do they get to keep it for forever
Mitch: So it is more than just providing something during the hospital it is also a keepsake?
Nick: Most definitely because every kid deserves to have this comfort.
Through Fleece & Thank You, Nicholas Kristock brings warmth and comfort to hospitalized kids right here in the heart of Detroit.
Production is underway at the Downriver Detroit Student Film Consortium where young creative minds are learning the art of filmmaking. Retired police Detective Scott Galeski founded the group.
Mitch: How does one go from being a cop to running a film consortium?
Scott: Well you know you have a childhood dream and mine was to be a filmmaker and around 2009, I made a little independent film and it took off and it started my film career.
With some 30 films under his belt, Scott is using his experience to educate the next generation.
Scott: We draw from Detroit schools Downriver schools most of our kids are disadvantaged, at risk, some of them have been in trouble. I have honors students – an eclectic mix. I like angry kids. I like kids that made bad decisions: they’re always edgy, they’re all critical thinkers.
The Consortium meets at the Downriver Council for the Arts in Wyandotte. Students work with volunteer instructors on script writing, acting, cinematography and directing – all free of charge – all taught by professionals. At the end of the season they show their projects at a formal premier held at the Trenton Village Theater. Several of the projects have gone on to win awards at film festivals around the country.
Scott: It’s more than just making films.
Mitch: It teaches them how to work together be creative together how to collaborate.
Mitch: Something tells me that a former police detective for 25 years at the top may keep things in line?
Scott: I’m the mean guy but I still love them.
What better mentor could a kid ask for? Scott Galeski is turning a childhood dream into the Hollywood dream right here in the heart of Detroit.
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