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Urban experiences are important to the development of well-rounded kids

Urban experiences develop self-confidence and cultural awareness in children. ArtPrize 8 is a perfect opportunity to bring kids downtown for a great urban experience.
Urban experiences like ArtPrize help build self-confidence and cultural awareness among youth.

Urban experiences like ArtPrize help build self-confidence and cultural awareness among youth. /Kendra Wills

This week my ten-year-old daughter told me that one of her friends said that she didn’t want to go to a concert in Detroit because “there were so many shootings there.” My daughter questioned this statement because our family has been to several sporting events in Detroit and we have always enjoyed our experiences there. Yes, Detroit is ranked as the city with the fifth highest murder rate in the U.S., but Detroit has many assets that make the city worth visiting. For example, The Guardian newspaper ranked the Detroit River Walk as one of the best in the world.

I think the real reason my daughter’s friend was so afraid to visit Detroit was because she didn’t grow up in an urban community and large cities are foreign environments for her.

As an admirer of architecture, urban planning, good food, parks, music and art, I find large cities to be wonderful places for children and young adults. Visitors can usually walk to many interesting places rather than getting in an out of the car and driving on uninteresting highways for a large part of the trip. Large cities usually have many museums, parks and playgrounds, which are all relatively inexpensive and fun for people of all ages. Parents magazine seems to agree with these ideas in their article “10 Best Cities for Families to Visit.

ArtPrize 8 in Grand Rapids is in full swing. This is the perfect opportunity for parents from surrounding communities to come downtown and visit new places. This is also a perfect opportunity to teach kids about the different neighborhoods and cultures in Grand Rapids and about important urban issues, like homelessness. My daughter tends to bring up this issue when we visit large cities.

I actually embrace these discussions (except when I’m starving or in a rush). I think it is important for us have these conversations and urban experiences so she can become a more well-rounded person and can build self-confidence by making her way around a place that isn’t her hometown. I think embracing urban environments will also help her better relate to people who come from urban communities. Children growing up with a variety of urban experiences may also be better equipped to live in these environments. If the younger generation follows the path of the Millennial generation, she’ll want to live in a large city at some point in her life. And that will be fine with me.

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