For our fourth and last challenge of the 2022-2023 program year, we partnered with Teen HYPE, a nonprofit that works alongside Detroit area youth (12-24) to celebrate them and build collective power, agency, leadership, and critical skills—making it possible for them to enact positive change in their lives and communities. Five teams of Fellows worked alongside the Teen HYPE staff, Detroit 4 Youth (D4Y) consultants and stakeholders including youth to create deliverables focused on the Detroit Youth Action Plan (DYAP) for this project – learn more from the perspective of each team!

Before we jump into it, let’s play a game! Using the images below, translate the sentences that are presented as emojis! (The correct answers can be found at the bottom of the blog post.) Good luck!

We hope you enjoyed that! Why not throw some fun in here, right? 

Collaborating as the YAC (Youth Action Council) Convening Design Team for our Challenge Project with Teen HYPE, we explored the idea of incorporating fun activities into learning and working environments to increase the amount of engagement. 

Our team was tasked with the question “How might we design a youth-centered event that convenes youth leaders from across the city to have a voice in the Detroit Youth Action Plan?” We were thrilled to have the opportunity to create an event for the youth of Detroit, but at the same time wondered how we could help ensure young people would be fully engaged when they attended. Luckily for us, after speaking with stakeholders, including youth, we were given a simple and repetitive answer to our question – ask the youth themselves! 

This was when we decided to create a way for the youth to be directly involved in the planning process for the event in order to have successful youth engagement and to create a space for youth empowerment.“Young people are more likely to show up when they have a role in shaping something,” said Lindsey Barrett. 

Takin’ care of business

To achieve this goal, we implemented action items within an Event Planning Guidebook for adults who would be planning the event to stop and ask the youth for their opinions on areas they would be engaging with. These engaging areas include icebreakers, group activities, and food menus. One of our key insights that resonated with us was this discovery of an unruly attitude adults can have towards youth, thinking they are better or more powerful than young people. We heard that this attitude is also referred to as adultism. After learning that information we felt it was very important to recognize this issue within our deliverable, being that the purpose of this event was to empower the youth. With that being said, there are areas within the Guidebook outlining best practices for adults in order to avoid adultism tendencies. There are also opportunities for youth leadership included in the proposed event plan such as youth-led activities, chairs for youth speakers in panel discussions, and the choice to develop a YAC playlist for music at the event. To help with funding we developed a proposed Sponsorship Kit to rally organizational support as well as a user friendly budgeting tool to hopefully eliminate the headaches of budget planning for an event. 

In the spirit of youth engagement and fun, our team threw together a playlist of songs we listened to in our middle school, high school, and college days. Feel free to jam to it in your car or laugh at the nostalgia! We thank Teen HYPE for giving us a lens to youth perspective; working on this project has been fun and very insightful.


  1. There Is A Light That Never Goes Out – The Smiths
  2. I Miss You- Blink 182
  3. Electric Feel- MGMT
  4. Kiss Kiss- Chris Brown
  5. Fergalicious- Fergie
  6. Lisztomania- Phoenix
  7. So What- Pink
  8. Take A Bow- Rihanna
  9. True To Your Heart- Mulan
  10. Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go- Wham!
  11. Stronger- Kanye West

Emoji Game Answers: 

  1. Raining Cats and Dogs 
  2. Cold Turkey 
  3. When Pigs Fly
  4. Living Under A Rock
  5. Kill Two Birds With One Stone

Blog by Fellow Team: Talia Greenberg, Eva Morlock, Chauncey Thompson, Jo’Charta Rogers, Amani Abuelenain,Victor Martinez