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Michigan Kids

Best of Michigan Nightlight 2016

Inclusive parks, tolerant schools, and cool moms. Revisit the best-read 2016 Michigan Nightlight stories from around the state.
Before we launch into another year of stories about the issues, people and programs that impact Michigan kids, we wanted to revisit the best-read 2016 Michigan Nightlight stories from around the state.
This piece on school gardens in Grand Rapids showcased how a focus on gardening and healthy eating can impact low-income kids, their families and their communities. “The garden allows them to see you can grow your own food and sustain yourself,” noted Rachel Brock, an eighth grade teacher at Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership Academy. “They’re used to fast and cheap food; this is changing that.”
Two other popular stories took readers outdoors, presenting the benefits that parks and outdoor play have on children and how they can help level the playing field between the privileged and underprivileged. Creating inclusive parks that welcome and engage local citizens was the focus of this article on the work of Friends of Grand Rapids Parks. The other story examined how efforts to improve Grand Rapids’ parks and give children a voice in park design are working to get more kids outside to play and connect with nature.
Our motherhood and entrepreneurship series also attracted many interested readers. The first story of the series looked at how entrepreneurship can contribute to family stability and impact the local ecosystem. The story noted that “while entrepreneurship has around-the-clock demands, many women still consider it a preferred pathway to achieving both financial and family stability, rather than being someone else’s employee.” Five Detroit-area women with different backgrounds were showcased in the series.
The second story in the series looked at how mother entrepreneurs managed gender and race stereotypes, and the third and final piece in the series illustrated how entrepreneurship allows women the flexibility to be attentive to their children’s needs – from meeting kids at the bus stop to tucking them in at night to being amazing role models.
If you haven’t caught the two one-minute videos that visually and musically recap the mother entrepreneur stories, please take a moment to enjoy them. You’ll find them here and here.
This May piece on LGBTQ policies in Kalamazoo schools presented a case for tolerance, understanding and acceptance – and deconstructed some myths that persist around LGBTQ issues. Sarah Leineke, a ninth-grade math teacher at Loy Norrix, and an advisor for the school’s Gender and Sexuality Alliance student organization, was interviewed for the story: “I didn't really even know that much about what it means to be trans and the trans experience and trans issues … it's really interesting how quickly we can change our mindset just by talking to people and listening to people."
Finally, the early fall feature on Carol Miller, a proponent for clean and accessible water, was also a popular read. For Miller, a water-quality engineering professor at Wayne State University, the 2016 Detroit water shutoffs troubled her in profound ways. "Shutoffs don't save money," she said in the story. "You're not saving significant quantities of money by shutting off water to all these people, you're making a statement." We covered this story with an understanding that children are often first affected when water is shut off or contaminated.
If you haven’t had a chance to read these pieces, please do. We look forward to bringing you more Michigan Nightlight stories in 2017.
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