Young Cultural Innovators Hub Project Explores How Art Can Be Used to Help Build Healthy Communities

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Jan 10, 2018
by Oscar Tollast
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Young Cultural Innovators Hub Project Explores How Art Can Be Used to Help Build Healthy Communities

YCI Shelley Danner explores how to create a culture of active living in Detroit From left to right - Photos from the Let's Play art installation, Shelley Danner and Dr. Asha Shajahan

A YCI Hub project designed to highlight the importance of healthy, active living through art has reached more than 350 people.

The Challenge Detroit YCI Art and Community Health Project led to four different art installations being created and showcased in various parts of Detroit.

The project was co-designed and led by Shelley Danner, program director of Challenge Detroit. Danner attended the third meeting of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators in 2016 and is a member of the Detroit YCI Hub.

Danner looked at the intersection of art and health, collaborating with Dr. Asha Shajahan from Beaumont Family Medicine, Challenge Detroit Fellows, and other community partners.

Challenge Detroit’s mission is “to challenge leaders to learn by doing through a year of meaningful employment and intellectual work with area nonprofits designed to positively impact” a “diverse” and “culturally vibrant” Detroit. It invites 30 of tomorrow’s leaders to live, work, play, give, and lead.

The art installations, built by four teams of Challenge Detroit Fellows, included “Let’s Play,” “Elevated Cardio,” “Step into Something,” and “Limitless.”

These four pieces of art were showcased at Central City Integrated Health and its Clubhouse, as well as the Butzel Recreation Center and Chandler Park.

While on display at the Central City Clubhouse, “Elevated Cardio” allowed members with disabilities to use a set of decorated stairs as part of their physical therapy program.

“Step into Something New” highlighted the physical activities that can be undertaken every day, from jumping to dancing. Silhouetted motions on 4 by 8 foot banners, paired with oversized shoes and motivational phrases were created for this installation.

“Let’s Play” involved Challenge Detroit Fellows taking photos of themselves in parks based throughout Detroit to show how physical activity can be fun. The Fellows behind this project used refurbished windows from the Architectural Salvage Warehouse in Detroit to frame the photos.

“Limitless” saw Challenge Detroit Fellows co-create art using bikes with children from Detroit’s eastside with neighborhood nonprofit Mack Avenue Community Church (MACC) Development.

The project featured at the Detroit Institute of Arts’ National Arts and Health Symposium in September and was also included in Detroit’s Open Streets community festival in October. 

The design question for the project was: How might we use art as a medium to build healthy communities and create a culture of active living in Detroit?

In a report about the project, Danner said, “Through the various presentations and site showcases thus far, we have interacted and raised awareness with over 350 community members and residents, and counting, of the importance of healthy, active living with low-barriers-to-access through these creative art installations.”

This project was made possible thanks to YCI project funds provided to Salzburg Global by the Kresge Foundation for follow-on work after last year’s YCI Forum. For more information about the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators, please click here.