When the Detroit Pistons and PeacePlayers United States began designing a series of community conversations last year, the idea was simple: gather dozens of parents, youth, and community leaders into one room to discuss important issues and come up with ideas to try and resolve them.
Everything went as planned. Except the getting together into one room part.
But that finally changed on Aug. 12 at the Henry Ford Detroit Pistons Performance Center, the Pistons’ state-of-the-art training facility, when improved Covid guidelines made it possible to meet in person rather than on a Zoom call for the fifth Community Conversation.
The series of conversations that was first launched in May, 2020 have been championed by Pistons leadership, including chairman Arn Tellem and vice president of community & social responsibility Erika Swilley.
Their determination to be a proactive member of the Detroit community is how over 50 people came to be gathered in a room overlooking two glistening basketball courts on a steamy summer day in August.
The topic — “A Return to In-Person Learning” — was selected to allow students, parents, school administrators, police officers and other civic leaders to discuss ways to best handle the upcoming school year when students would finally be returning to the classroom on a full-time basis.
After a warm welcome to all from Pistons senior vice president of marketing Alicia Jeffreys, PeacePlayers Detroit Director Jasmine Cooper assumed her hosting duties and the evening’s raison d’etre was underway.
Everyone who wanted an opportunity to speak was given a chance with the students in attendance — including several members of the Pistons Youth Council — just as willing to speak their mind as any of the adults.
Youth Council member Kassidy Williams said she was “excited to be able to join clubs and go to games again. To feel normal.” Cameron Collins, a student representing the AAA Mentor Program, said he was just “looking forward to having a normal schedule again.”
But with Covid still very much a concern, exactly how things can be “normal” was on the mind of Youth Council member Carrington Boards.
With those questions and other like it lingering in the air, everyone in attendance broke up into six groups to begin discussing topics and coming up with possible solutions. For example, on the topic of education concerns some possible solutions included creating a Safe Detroit Play Center and having more community meetings for those impacted.
Many of the adults in attendance during the 2 1/2-hour event shared their insights into the best way schools can operate during the coming year. But everyone agreed it was the kids who stole the show.
Pistons legend and former Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, who participated in the group discussions, came away extremely impressed by the young people — several of whom were involved with PeacePlayers Detroit — that came to try and carve out a better future for themselves, their peers and the kids who will
come after them.
For more information about the PeacePlayers Detroit’s partnership with the Detroit Pistons, and the Community Conversations contact David Cassel, PeacePlayers US Head of Strategy and Operations, at firstname.lastname@example.org