Community Coalition receives grant to help students

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison-Park News | Published November 8, 2023

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MADISON HEIGHTS — The Madison Heights Community Coalition has received a $10,000 grant from the local Meijer, which will fund programs benefiting students at schools across the city.

The focus is to build resilience in students, said Kimberly Heisler, the MHCC executive director, in an email. She said that “resilience” does not mean immunity to stress and suffering, but rather the ability to withstand adversity, and to bounce back from difficult life events by working through feelings.

To this end, the MHCC will collaborate with both the Lamphere and Madison school districts to determine the best ways to spend the money on programs and resources building resilience.

In addition, the MHCC is working with Madison Heights Youth Assistance to bring positive programming to schools in Madison Heights, such as yoga and “Art Adventures.” These programs first made their debut last school year, as six- and eight-week sessions for students who were selected by administrators and counselors. The programs aim to improve mental health.

The MHCC has also hosted successful back-to-school wellness events, partnering with groups such as Madison Heights Recreation, both school districts, the library, Team Rehab, Ascension Health and Oakland County Health Network, offering resources to students and their families as the new school year gets underway.

The MHCC was founded in October 2016 and is a licensed 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, funded by the Alliance of Communities for Healthy Coalitions, and a Drug-Free Communities grant through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The group accepts tax-deductible donations online at Volunteers can also apply on the website.

The MHCC currently employs a youth coordinator and marketing specialist, and has also hired a student intern to oversee the newly formed Youth Wellness Council, which consists of two groups: middle school students and high school students. The Youth Wellness Council gives students an opportunity to share their concerns within the schools and the community, as well as to build life skills and undertake leadership opportunities.

“We know that youth are our future, and their voices matter,” Heisler said.

One of the coalition’s current goals is to reduce the amount of unused and/or expired medications found in homes. The coalition has been promoting free pouches designed to neutralize medications safely at home. To arrange pickup of a pouch, call the MHCC office at (248) 837-2861.

The coalition is also putting together “prevention corners” at the library, as well as in the middle schools and high schools. Each provides a safe space for youth to access information and resources on topics such as managing mental health and avoiding substance use.

Sean Fleming, a member of the Madison Heights City Council, said he feels encouraged by the way local businesses support the MHCC.

“It’s good that our corporations in the city are able to provide us with grants that will help out our youth,” Fleming said. “The programs resulting from this will help kids cope with all the tension in the world, which will help make for a stronger community of future young adults.”

Roslyn Grafstein, the mayor of Madison Heights, said via email that MHCC continues to be a “vital and valued partner” for the city.

“Working with our schools and the Police Department, as well as our Youth Assistance and Women’s Club, they provide education and resources to combat substance abuse, and to help promote mental and physical wellness,” Grafstein said. “It has been an honor to join them at both their somber events and their celebrations. I look forward to being a part of the supportive programs for our youth that will be funded by the $10,000 grant.”

Mark Bliss, the mayor pro tem, said everyone should do their part to support today’s youth.

“Kids face so much stress from the complexity of today’s world. Every teen has a camera phone in their pocket, so any mistake they make could be a ‘forever’ thing. And bullying can follow them home, with harassment online at all hours. Not to mention the types of expectations created by social media, and the weight of the 24-hour news cycle, where things get immediately pushed out across all networks. I can’t even imagine the pressure,” Bliss said.

“So I’m incredibly thankful there are groups out there like the Community Coalition, groups who are there for our kids, trying to provide them a lifeline in an otherwise challenging period,” he said. “And I hope their work not only helps this generation, but the next one.”