What is Demo Day, anyway?
A crush of kids pushed past me as I walked through a Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan hallway. Two offered hurried apologies for nearly knocking me over, but the others were too engrossed in conversation to notice my presence.
“Man, that was fun!” one yelled to the group.
“Are you kidding me,” another questioned. “I hurt in places I didn’t know you could hurt!”
I spun around to pay closer attention. There were 4 boys and 3 girls leaving Dauch campus’ new yoga studio. They’d stayed late for a demonstration and were now running behind for a dance class in the gym. My writer’s ears had perked up and I wanted to know how the youth felt about taking a yoga class.
“I’d come back to this class every day if they’ll let us,” said the one complaining of pain. He said it was the good kind and that their instructor, Jamel Randall, made the class fun.
This, I learned, is the point of Demo Day. No, not to stretch youth bodies, per se. But definitely to stretch their minds. Demo Day is the show part of “show & tell.”
Each season BGCSM remixes their programming. Popular offerings may stick around, but new programs are always being cycled in. This year there was no sitting in the gym (who goes to a gym to sit, anyway?) and listening to Detroit business owners talk about what they do or why youth should be interested.
The inaugural Demo Day introduced the youth to the actual programming that will be available this school year. Club Kids, parents and some curious passersby sat in mini sessions that replicated what youth would do in a complete after school program.
These partners demonstrate their skills on Demo Day. And the Club Kids loved it all.
The event is the brainchild of Cortnie Squirewell, BGCSM’s executive director of innovation and stakeholder engagement. It was her idea to toss lectures out of the window and replace them with memorable experiences.
“If I were 12, I may not remember what 10 people said to me in an assembly,” she said. “But I’ll definitely remember who let me fly a drone or stretch to 6black blasting from the speakers.”
And she’s right. I started the day asking myself what is DemoDay and ended it wanting to take the classes myself!
The College for Creative Studies (CCS) was on hand to show our youth how to make their own movies. Anyone interested in that after school program will be a pro in developing concepts, shooting and editing video.
If the youth working in our CCS program are short on talent for their films, they can go across the hall to the DJ Academy. That’s where youth can learn to make their own beats and to produce music. Each group that visited the studio on Demo Day created its own club beat. These children may never know the joys my classmates and I had learning to play the recorder, but I think this is a skill that could be far more marketable in the future.
Urban Content Studios (UCS) will be teaching youth to become content creators – an ever-growing field of opportunity across today’s digital landscape. Youth can learn to write, take photos or shoot video, just like UCS does for BGCSM!
Living Arts sent dancers to teach an African dance class that did an amazing job of exhausting youth in 15-minute increments. Detroit Hives brought in a real beehive so youth can learn the inner workings of honey production. JOURNi brought in real robots and drones so everyone could get a hands-on experience with technology.
If you experienced any feelings of awe, wonder or jealously (like I did) at the list of amazingly cool options available to Club Kids, consider donating the BGCSM today.