FII-Detroit UpTogether members came together for a unique celebration to close out 2019. Fellows Angel Loper and EJ Brown and FII staff member Jennifer Chatle decided to have a focus on children for this event. Jennifer said, “on UpTogether, we talk a lot about adult accomplishments – credit scores, getting a new job, etc. We focus on adult goals and successes. Kids tend to only get a lot of attention when something is wrong – when they are academically struggling, or when they act out, that’s when adults pay attention. When kids are doing the things they are supposed to be doing, they are often overlooked.”
This is why they decided to hold a children’s achievement ceremony to close out the year. As UpTogether members RSVP’d for the event, they submitted their child’s name and what they wanted to recognize them for. There were no limitations on what the recognition could be for. 70 UpTogether members came together to celebrate the 30 children who were recognized at the ceremony. The kids were given personalized certificates signed by FII-Detroit Director Kofi Kenyatta. Their recognitions ranged from doing well in school to helping a sibling to read. One adult UpTogether member even nominated her two adult daughters for their support of her nonprofit.
Jennifer recalls that the best part of the event was watching each child as their name was called and as they heard what their parent wanted to acknowledge them for. Each face lit up as they received their certificates, a reminder that their parents see their accomplishments and want everyone else to know about them.
Chevelle Brown, wife of FII fellow EJ, was the keynote speaker of the evening. She teaches chess at local schools and even takes kids to national competitions. She spoke to the kids about chess and goal setting, explaining that each piece has their own move, and can all do their one special thing, but they all share one mission. This mission is their “why” – why they sacrifice, why they do what they do. She encouraged the kids to keep their “why” in mind in everything they do. The event closed with everyone joining together to learn the basics of chess.