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Detroit LISC bestowed its Youth Spirit of Community Award on Deatrianna Hawkins, a dynamic junior at Detroit’s Frank Cody High School. Hawkins truly embodies the values of this award and even at the young age of 15, she is making quite an impact on her community.
Hawkins is actively involved in the design, planning and construction of Hope Park, a new green space and park being erected directly across from Cody High School.
“A lot of parks (in the area) are broken or abandoned,” Hawkins observes. “The new park will bring a lot of people together. It will be a gathering place for families…and kids can play.” She points out that Hope Park will reflect the cultural richness of the surrounding community.
The project is being spearheaded by EcoWorks, a Detroit based nonprofit providing services at the intersection of community development and sustainability, and the park is being funded by a generous grant from the Kresge Foundation.
Hawkins became involved with the Hope Park project last year while participating in a summer work program at EcoWorks. When asked to join the team, she jumped right in.
While being the youngest student team member, Hawkins was instrumental to the project’s success. She demonstrated exemplary leadership by guiding older students through complex building processes, and was a creative, day-to-day problem solver.
Hawkins provided valuable insights during the design process for the park. She analyzed the designs and observed: “We don’t want the park to look like it came from Downtown.”
She explained that it should be built from the ground up using recyclable and renewable materials.
“I didn’t want it to look high tech. We are using things that aren’t being used any more. For example, we built a pyramid of old tires,” says Hawkins.
That input altered the trajectory of Hope Park, and ensured that it would capture the community’s characteristics, strengths and its diversity.
Hawkins who is a very quiet, soft spoken individual is a powerhouse when it comes to community involvement. When she reflects on receiving the award from Detroit LISC, she says, “It means I can achieve many other things, and I can help the community in many ways.”
She already has set a goal for her future, and plans to become a pediatrician. Hawkins enthusiastically says, “I want to be a doctor – I’m determined to be that.”