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Young people navigating life, trauma, and push for social justice

Posted at 10:42 AM, Jun 10, 2020

Myles Parks was like any other high school senior, preparing for graduation, prom, and then college when COVID-19 hit and changed so much in their lives. But the pain and struggles of 2020 weren't over by a long shot.

"It was definitely heartbreaking," the 17-year-old senior at Detroit's Renaissance High School told 7 Action News. "And right when we were thinking about coming out of it, police brutality and George Floyd happens and it's very overwhelming."

Parks said young people are using their voices in peaceful protests and on social media to help push for social justice while still trying to manage their lives as they get busier preparing for whatever graduation will look like and then life in college.

Parks has been part of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan since he was six-years-old where he now sits on the board.

"All I can say is it's been a life-changing experience," Parks said. "I don't know where I would be if it weren't for the Boys and Girls Club.

Shawn H. Wilson, CEO of Boys and Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan, said the majority of the 15,000 youths they serve annually are youths of color.

Wilson said they focus on helping young people build foundations for success and sustainable futures.

"We help them build healthy peer relationships but, most importantly, we put them on a pathway to economic mobility."

Wilson has attended several of the peaceful protests in Detroit and he said it's important for adults to support young people as they use their voice for change.

Wilson encouraged his own daughter to use her voice and that inspired her to make a video in which she sings "Lift Every Voice and Sing."

Key for adults helping young people through turbulent times is listening to them, having conversations, and not being afraid to seek therapy, he said.

Today marks the start of the Boys and Girls Clubs summer and sports camps. For information, you can visit their website at