When you drive past the Downtown Boxing Gym Youth Program’s (DBG) building, it looks unassuming and industrial. It’s not until you turn off East Vernor Highway that you see the large, colorful banner brandishing their name. The DBG’s mission is similar to their building. At first glance, it simply seems like a boxing gym that happens to also provide free tutoring, but focusing on the boxing aspect of the DBG would just be scratching the surface of this great organization.

The Boxing Gym’s motto is “books before boxing,” and education takes precedent in all that they do. For my Impact Project I partnered with the DBG to expand their capacity and create a new place for students to learn and express themselves by activating the empty, outdoor lot next to their building. It was important to the Boxing Gym that the space remain versatile and multi-use. Because of this, I designed a multi-purpose stage that comes apart in blocks to make it easier to move and store.

The stage was built by a team of 20 hardworking volunteers on a hot day in mid-July. They put the pieces together to construct the blocks of the stage, which can be used for seating when not in stage form. They also helped build the frame, where a pull-down screen can be attached so movies, presentations and more can be projected onto it outside. The frame also has eyelets so artwork or backdrops can be strung across for community events and shows. As part of this project, I also developed potential programming that could be implemented while utilizing the stage, and researched and reached out to other organizations that could partner with the DBG while using the structure.

Building the stage and completing my Impact Project has taught me a lot about the power of community. By simply reaching out to organizations and individuals in my network, I was able to create a large, tangible thing that will (hopefully) be standing for many years to come. The stage is a physical representation of the good that can come when a group of people, sometimes strangers to not only each other, but those they are benefiting, come together and work towards a common goal. Hey, someone should create a fellowship of young professionals based on that concept. . .