DETROIT (WWJ) – One of the highlights of summer for more than 37,000 youngsters from the Metro Detroit area is the annual Metro Detroit Youth Day. This year, the colorful event for children will celebrate its 29th anniversary on Wednesday from 8:30 am to 2:30 pm.

Youth Day began following altercations between youth and Detroit merchants in the summer of 1980. The event was created to show youngsters that businesses, the community and civic organizations do care about our youth.

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“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 1,700 volunteers. The day emphasizes sportsmanship, education, fair play and leadership,” co-founder Ed Deeb said in a statement.

Youth Day, the largest youth event in Michigan, will have entertainment featuring Motown singer Martha Reeves, who will sing the National Anthem. Other performers include the Youth Day Youth Idol Contest winners, Detroit Academy of Arts & Sciences Choir and Dawnille Lyons Group.

The event started as a day of fun and games for youth. Then in 1991, Youth Day was expanded to include youth guidance, mentors, role models, anti-substance abuse activity, motivational speakers and awarding 60 or more college scholarships to graduating high school seniors each year.

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To date more than 700 scholarships have been awarded to area graduating high school seniors. Youth Day also honors non-seniors in high schools for academic achievement and community service each year.

New this year will be youth workshops, exploring topics such as anti-bullying, fighting obesity, anti-school crime and entrepreneurship to help teach youngsters more about business and owning one’s business. In addition, College Row will include 10 colleges and universities providing information for the students.

Sports stars, government officials, local celebrities and others attend the event and provide upbeat messages and encouragement to the youth. At noon, a free lunch will be served to participants and volunteers.

More than 319 community and youth organizations participate in Metro Youth Day, including more than 220 businesses, civic organizations and government agencies as sponsors.

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