Families & Community

The connections that build opportunity.

neighborhood
Nicholas A. Tonelli / Flickr CC / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Can where you live affect how successful you'll be? Though evidence is limited, studies suggest the answer is yes.

Song of the Sea on the "big screen" at the Play House
Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

It’s been decades since Mr. Rogers invited us to be his neighbor.

 

 

All were welcomed – rich, poor, black, white, immigrant. But today the reality is neighborhoods are much more segregated and homogenous. There are, of course, exceptions. As part of our year-long look at neighborhoods and their impacts, we'll be spending time in a diverse neighborhood on the border of Hamtramck and Detroit that's actively working to integrate.

 

 


neighborhood
symmetry_mind / Flickr CC / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

This month we entered our fifth and final year of State of Opportunity.

Whether you've followed us from the beginning, or joined us somewhere along the way, you'll know we've talked a lot about factors that affect the development of children and adolescents, from birth to young adulthood.

This year, we'll be shifting our focus heavily to neighborhoods.

How do our neighborhoods make us who we are? How much do they define us and the way we see the world? How do they shape our personality or impact our future?

A low-income, tiny house community is coming to Detroit

May 20, 2016
Tiny house
Tomas Quinones / Flickr CC / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

In April, we wrote about a tiny house community that recently opened in Austin, Texas. The residents who live there all have one thing in common: They are chronically homeless.

Paulette Parker / Michigan Radio

Angels Above Baby Gowns takes all those dresses you only wear once and put away, like wedding and bridesmaid gowns, or prom dresses – and turn them into burial gowns for babies. They call them "angel gowns." Then, they give them to parents and hospitals, for free.

Dawn Lafferty started Angels Above two years ago after reading a news story about a mom in the state of Washington whose son died at birth. The mom went home and made a gown to bury him in out of her old wedding dress. Lafferty, who has been sewing since she was 10 years old, says she thought it was a great idea.

Coming out as transgender senior year

May 11, 2016
Alanna Roberts and her mom Lindsey.
Alanna Roberts

High school seniors are counting down the last few weeks until graduation.

In the small township of Ida, Michigan, Alanna Roberts is looking back on a pretty big senior year.

She was the first student in her high school, and maybe even the whole township, to come out as transgender.

Those first few months were rough.

"A lot of guys threatened to rip out my hair extensions when I was like walking by,” she says, sitting on the front porch of the house she shares with her mom, stepdad and three younger brothers.  

Devyn Farries
Cass Adair / Michigan Radio

Michigan is in the midst of a controversy surrounding transgender people’s access to public bathrooms.

It’s a hot-button issue evidenced by the nearly 10,000 people who have filed public comments on the State Board of Education’s draft of voluntary guidelines for schools to meet the needs of their transgender students. By comparison, no other proposals have received more than 40 comments.

screenshot of Abbi's Facebook post

She first went into the system when she was five years old, she says.

She bounced around, like any of the thousands of kids in Michigan who go through foster care. So she waited, like everyone else waits. Many of them wait so long, they turn 18 in foster care, and they’re never adopted. They “age out.”

But her story took a different turn. 

It was this winter. January. Abbi was 15 years old. We’re just using her first name.

She was living in a group home, thinking of another year, another birthday without a family. She talked to her therapist about it.

Julisa Abad moved to Detroit five years ago. Since then she’s become one of the most outspoken advocates for transgender issues in the area.
Julisa Abad

 

 

 

Julisa Abad was was never kicked out of her home. She was never in the child welfare system. But her dad stopped talking to her years ago.  We spoke to her and her friend, Ashley Avery, as part of our Family Values documentary about the ways in which family rejection and acceptance impacts health outcomes for LGBTQ youth.

 

Based on hundreds of interviews with LGBTQ youth and families, the Family Acceptance Project codified a whole spectrum of rejecting and accepting behavior.
Family Acceptance Project

If you ask Cherish Blackmon about her gender, you won’t get a simple answer.

“Well, on the inside, I definitely identify my masculinity, but I also acknowledge my feminine on the outside because I know that God has given me the privilege to experience the opposite body of what I originally am in this lifetime," she said. "I feel like I’m both, but it feels like one.”

As for her sexual orientation, Blackmon says early on she knew she was attracted to women.

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