Voices of Youth: Reworking the Ypsilanti area to better meet young people's needs

This article is part of Concentrate's Voices of Youth series, which features content created by Washtenaw County youth in partnership with Concentrate staff mentors, as well as feature stories by adult writers that examine issues of importance to local youth. In this installment, student artist Jahshua Treadwell shares his art about how the Ypsilanti area could better serve young people's needs.

Artist's statement: The name of this piece is "Rework." Edit, reshape, and revise are synonyms to this word. It is very fitting when you look at my photos because I think it is time for this area to be revised. What inspired me to create this piece is that I see all the potential locations and buildings for youth fitness that my community has, but unfortunately it has not been utilized for youth such as myself that live in this area.  There are currently conversations among the leaders in our community about building a community center by utilizing the old Cheney Elementary School building. Unfortunately, this topic has been in the works for quite some time and I am not sure if youth voices are part of the planning.

The former Cheney Elementary School in Ypsilanti Township, possible future home of a community center.

When you look at the photos I have taken around the Ypsilanti area, you will see some locations have been abandoned, such as the old Willow Run track. I used to spend time there with my family exercising on that track. It was walking distance from my home. Unfortunately the track has been torn up and only cement remains.

The old Willow Run track.

Currently the Willow Run building has sports. Unfortunately, just like the local community center, it is unaffordable to someone like myself.  The community center boasts many activities and programs. Basketball courts are available, which are very appealing to children my age and in our neighborhood. Unfortunately there is a fee of around $20 an hour. The next closest basketball court to my home is the abandoned Cheney building. This location has a backboard but no hoop.

A basketball court with no hoops at the former Cheney Elementary School in Ypsilanti Township.

I am thankful for programs such as Community Leadership Revolution (CLR). This program allows local youth like my siblings and me a place to get fit, have fun, and learn about exercises.

The Community Leadership Revolution program at South Pointe Scholars.

I have the pleasure of having my father Melvin Treadwell as one of the coaches. He takes me to South Pointe Scholars (which is one of the two locations that the program has available in the Ypsilanti area). During the summer months it is held at Parkridge Park.

The Community Leadership Revolution program at South Pointe Scholars.

I have met many youth who have expressed how grateful they are for this program. Coach Justin Harper and his amazing team have offered bussing for youth that live near the MacArthur Boulevard and Arbor Woods area. Unfortunately, like most programs, many youth face the barrier of transportation and can't make it to the program. Just recently my dad has even allowed for some carpooling of some of the youth who needed a ride home.

The Community Leadership Revolution program at South Pointe Scholars.

I am thankful for men like my father and the CLR crew who are looking out for youth. Not all of us can make it to the Ann Arbor YMCA. CLR meets us where we are. It is time for "The Rework" of Ypsilanti to include more for the youth.

The Community Leadership Revolution program at Parkridge Park.

Who are you as an artist? I express my artistic capabilities through drawing. I enjoy drawing because it is very calming and therapeutic for me. I have the benefit of having my parents as my primary educators. This allows me more time to focus on my artwork. Beaches, sunsets, and mountains are things I enjoy drawing because it brings me peace.

Jahshua Treadwell, 13, is a homeschooled eighth-grader at Treadwell Learning Academy. He lives in Ypsilanti Township.

Concentrate staffer Yen Azzaro served as Jahshua's mentor on this project.

To learn more about Concentrate's Voices of Youth project and read other installments in the series, click 
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