Detroit Heals Detroit began in 2018 as a project in Sirrita Darby’s Detroit Collegiate High School classroom where students created a publication to confront their own traumas.
Through that experience, they discovered the power of healing together through writing. Now they’re taking that concept of a collective healing space to the next level with a vision to create a youth-led healing hub on the east side of Detroit.
The nonprofit is crowdfunding to pay for the first phase of the project, which entails community engagement and finding the property to build the Healing Hub, says Darby, now the executive director of the nonprofit founded by Earneasha Byars, Brianna Donald, Kandis Hooks, Mercedes Lucious, Silyce Lee, and Kobi Sparks. The goal is to raise $10,000 through the campaign, but they’ve already raised more than $15,000 through the website and other platforms.
The Healing Hub, which will have a gym and different rooms offering services from aromatherapy to art therapy, will cater to the community of the 48205 ZIP code, which was specifically chosen because it has some of the highest crime rates in the city, which translates to the highest trauma rates as well, Darby says. “Most of our youth is from there and when it comes to community development this area is often missed especially in terms of youth. They don’t have many spaces [in the area] to engage and heal specifically,” she says.
The goal is to have the hub open in 12-16 months, Darby says.
The tandem crises of the pandemic and civil unrest in the wake of George Floyd’s killing at the hands of a police officer have “amplified inequalities and amplified the need to heal even more,” Darby says. The youths saw murals popping up in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and they, along with students from Detroit Public Schools Community District, wanted to create their own that uplifts Black power and resilience. Working with renowned artist Hubert Massey, the youths will get started on the mural, which will stretch across the west lanes of Woodward between Larned and Congress, on Wednesday with the painting being unveiled in time for Juneteenth on Friday.
With the mural and the healing hub, the members of Detroit Heals Detroit is working “so the next generation doesn’t have to deal with what this generation does,” Darby says, adding “healing collectively is more powerful than individually.”