A New Play Structure for Auntie Na’s Village!
As our society grapples with the twin pandemics of COVID-19 and racism, we have seen countless instances of individuals coming together to uplift each other. Right here in Southeast Michigan and across the country, we have seen thousands of people peacefully protest racial injustice and work to support Black communities. In this spirit, the University of Michigan Medicine Class of 2024 has teamed up with Student Council and the Black Medical Association to fundraise in support of Auntie Na’s Village, a Detroit-based nonprofit.
Although the coronavirus has affected all of us, it has simultaneously deepened systemic inequalities and disproportionately affected cities such as Detroit. Keeping this in mind, the UMMS Class of 2024 voted to support Auntie Na’s Village, an organization aimed at improving the lives of Detroiters one block at a time. In a city that is more than 78% Black, Auntie Na has been rehabilitating her neighborhood and providing safe places for kids and families to gather. After meeting with Auntie Na herself, the students launched a fundraiser to transform a vacant lot into a community park with a new play structure. The students believe it is important to cultivate safe outdoor environments for children to play, and as future physicians, have a responsibility to work towards eradicating racism and inequalities.
Without a nearby park or any open community centers, many kids turn to Auntie Na’s Village for an after school hangout. COVID-19 has disrupted regular programming and we are now encouraged to spend time outdoors and maintain social distancing when possible. With limited indoor space, a new play structure would allow the kids to enjoy while keeping themselves and their loved ones safe.
Across the country, physicians have highlighted the importance for children to continue to learn and socialize with other children despite the pandemic. Socialization is critical for supporting healthy child development and preventing social isolation related depression. While more affluent communities have well maintained parks and community centers, Auntie Na’s neighborhood does not have the resources to provide this for their children. As a result, a new play structure can help the children engage in activity and socialization in a safe environment.
The Class of 2024 believes it is essential that we address the systemic racism that Detroit and Black communities all across this country face on a regular basis. These disparities extend to the health care system, and it is therefore incumbent upon future physicians to be the solution. Fostering healthy, safe, and sanitary environments for children in communities where parks, schools and vital services have been defunded is vital to tackling our nation’s health disparities and social injustice. For more information regarding the fundraiser, please visit https://www.auntienashouse.org/current-campaign.html. All donations can be submitted at this link.
If you have questions please contact:
Sanaya Irani – 248-292-1665 firstname.lastname@example.org – Medical Student at the University of Michigan Medical School