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Parks, peas and potential: The best of Michigan Nightlight 2016


Before we launch into another year of stories about the issues, people and programs that impact Grand Rapids' children, we wanted to revisit the best-read 2016 Michigan Nightlight stories from Rapid Growth.
Before we launch into another year of stories about the issues, people and programs that impact Grand Rapids’ kids, we wanted to revisit the best-read 2016 Michigan Nightlight stories from Rapid Growth. (In case you don’t know, Michigan Nightlight is our series of solutions-focused stories about improving outcomes for vulnerable children.)  

This piece on school gardens showcased how 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 the city’s parks and give children a voice in park design are working to get more kids outside to play and connect with nature.

Another top-read story illustrated the power of art in community. This article told the tale of how young creatives were empowered to design a mural on Grandville Avenue that celebrates the Latino community and diversity. From the story: “As part of the mural, there are depictions of various flags … an effort to both symbolize the heritages of those living in the community and a way to celebrate the incredible array of cultures that create a strong, tight-knit neighborhood that deserves to be lifted up as much as, for example, Grand Rapids’ downtown.”

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.

This article is part of Michigan Nightlight, a series of stories about the programs and people that positively impact the lives of Michigan kids. It is made possible with funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Read more in the series here.
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