September 09, 2020

Medical School Class of 2024, Black Medical Association, Student Council team up to aid nonprofit

In Detroit, a city that is more than 78 percent Black, Auntie Na's Village has been rehabilitating neighborhoods and providing safe places for kids and families to gather

Auntie Na's House fundraiser

As society grapples with the twin pandemics of COVID-19 and racism, there have been countless instances of individuals coming together to uplift each other. In Southeast Michigan and across the country, thousands of people have peacefully protested racial injustice and worked to support Black communities.

In this spirit, the U-M Medical School Class of 2024 has teamed up with Student Council and the Black Medical Association to fundraise in support of Auntie Na’s Village, a Detroit-based nonprofit.

Although the coronavirus has affected all of us, it has simultaneously deepened systemic inequalities and disproportionately affected cities such as Detroit. Keeping this in mind, the UMMS Class of 2024 voted to support Auntie Na’s Village, an organization aimed at improving the lives of Detroiters one block at a time.

In a city that is more than 78 percent Black, Auntie Na has been rehabilitating her neighborhood and providing safe places for kids and families to gather. After meeting with Auntie Na herself, the students launched a fundraiser to transform a vacant lot into a community park with a new play structure.

The students believe it is important to cultivate safe outdoor environments for children to play, and as future physicians, have a responsibility to work toward eradicating racism and inequalities.

Without a nearby park or any open community centers, many kids turn to Auntie Na’s Village for an after-school hangout. COVID-19 has disrupted regular programming and with limited indoor space, a new play structure would allow the kids to enjoy while keeping themselves and their loved ones safe.

Across the country, physicians have highlighted the importance for children to continue to learn and socialize with other children despite the pandemic. Socialization is critical for supporting healthy child development and preventing social isolation related depression. While more affluent communities have well maintained parks and community centers, Auntie Na’s neighborhood does not have the resources to provide this for their children. As a result, a new play structure can help the children engage in activity and socialization in a safe environment.

The Class of 2024 believes it is essential that we address the systemic racism that Detroit and Black communities all across this country face on a regular basis. These disparities extend to the health care system, and it is therefore incumbent upon future physicians to be the solution. Fostering healthy, safe, and sanitary environments for children in communities where parks, schools and vital services have been defunded is vital to tackling our nation’s health disparities and social injustice.

For more information regarding the fundraiser, please click here.

If you have questions, contact Sanaya Irani at  sanaya@med.umich.edu.