Scene In Detroit: Let Your Kids Experience The Big City

By Amelia Kanan, CBS Detroit Blogger

If you are a parent who lives in the metro Detroit suburbs, it’s easy to find reasons not to bring the family into the city on  weekends. Little Jimmy has baseball on Saturdays, the car ride is too long or maybe it seems like there’s more to do outside Detroit.

You might also just think it’s safer to stay away. I grew up in a suburb (without any diversity) next to Detroit but my parents made sure we were in and out of the city at least once a week. It was Eastern Market on early Saturday mornings, Greektown on Friday nights, Tigers games in the summer, Red Wing games in the winter — and they were all accompanied by my mom and dad telling their own stories of childhood and Detroit.

Some of the stories were good, some were bad and some were ugly, but the combo of my early experiences in Detroit and hearing about their experiences fueled a flame within my own heart. Not to mention, I learned how to walk in a city, what to be aware of, how not to be afraid of  things that don’t look so familiar or even pretty. I used it to build the confidence that I needed to go off and live in even bigger cities. All those things are also responsible for my return to the city where I learned it all.

Here are some suggestions for all different kinds of personalities and weather that might ignite a flame within your own children’s hearts to visit Detroit:

Rainy Days: Museums and libraries get a bad rap by children and parents alike however, you have the ability to make things fun and the DIA, Science Center and The Detroit Public Library help guide you with organized events. Check their websites for more details and prices.

Sunny Days: Pack a picnic and put your bikes, scooters, strollers or roller blades in the car and go to Belle Isle, William G. Milliken State Park or the Dequindre Cut where everyone can ride and run as fast and for as long as they want.

Creative Moods: Schedule a day or class at Pewabic Pottery or Arts & Scraps.

Sports Lovers: Take a tour and a do a mini clinic (only $5 extra) at Ford Field. (Tours are $7-Adults and $5-Children/Seniors)

Family TogethernesssGleaners Food Bank offers a variety of different programs to introduce you and your child into the world of volunteerism. Many parents are afraid of showing their kids the world of poverty and homelessness however, it’s all in how you communicate with them through it. Introducing your children to these situations will instill gratefulness, compassion and perspective.

Special Occasions: Theater is one of the best experiences you can give a child, even if they have no interest in performance art. When I was a kid, I rarely knew/understood most of the show yet at the same time I was always entertained. You know of the usual venues to check out but no worries if tickets to Beauty in the Beast are out of your price range (consider yourself lucky because Beauty and the Beast is played out) instead take in a performance at Puppet Art,

There’s so much fun, good food and culture that exists downtown that it’s silly to opt out of letting your kids experience that. Exposing your kids to all the faces of Detroit offers many life lessons and the earlier you can introduce them, the less scary they will seem. Don’t shelter your kids, instead teach them to appreciate history, to be open to diversity and how to walk strong and tall in a city.

Amelia Kanan is freelance writer/photographer and a returning native of Detroit. A graduate of Columbia College in Chicago, she wrote for an Emmy nominated sketch comedy show and pursued her passion for documentary filmmaking in Los Angeles. An incomplete list of her loves: books, human rights, improv, the smell of new shoes, talking to strangers, libraries, France, yoga, furniture, music, sociology and pushing the limits.

  • rboschian

    This is such a motivater, thanks!

  • Cathie (Shonk) Shane

    I now live in Colorado, but grew up in the 50’s and 60’s in Detroit. I also lived in a neighborhood that was not full of diversity, but, as you say, my parents introduced myself and my brothers to all the diversity the city had to offer. Baseball, football, basketball, and hockey were all required (and loved) activities. My mother worked at the Penobscot building for a lawyer, and my father belonged to all the unions so as not to be out of work whenever there was a strike with one union or another. We had many trips into the downtown area as children experiencing all the city had to offer. We had family all over the city, so no neighborhood was safe from our presence. From the worst of the slums to the Cranbrook Institute, we saw it all and took it in with amazement. I was and usher at the Ford Theater while in High School and, as you say, may not have understood all the meanings of the plays I saw, but was highly entertained and enriched for the experience. From the Detroit Philharmonic Symphony, I was inspired by music and a little play called “The Apple Tree” inspired me to join the drama club at the high school i attended. My beloved Henry Ford High. I was taught to walk strong and with confidence through all these experiences and never felt fear when walking any street of Detroit while growing up. The city can be whatever you want it to be. It can be mean or kind, ugly or beautiful. It’s all in how you look at it and the experiences you have while growing up there. I am so proud of Detroit George right now because he is rebuilding Old Redford Township as a blight buster. There is so much hope for the old stomping grounds at this point, it makes my heart swell. If you want your children to be well-rounded, please don’t shield them from all the city of Detroit has to offer. Give them strength, confidence, and a good education about the Culture and the city they are growing in. They (and you) are guaranteed to be enriched by the experiences, sights, and sounds of the most beautiful city I know. I just wish I was still there when my children were growing up so they could experience all I did.

  • simheafarguson

    I never think that after coming here you will surprise me! What a brilliant stuff after reading this carefully I found few good point which is really impressive. Thanks!

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