It is an all-hands-on-deck moment in Michigan and our nation. Today’s opinion from the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade should be a siren blaring in the night, waking people up from every corner of the country and motivating them to take action — [...]
The youth group at Affirmations LGBTQ+ community center in Ferndale has, for the second year in a row, designed a T-shirt for sale. All proceeds from the tee, priced at $35-40, goes back into the youth group.
Justin Bettcher, Affirmation’s community engagement manager, said the group worked to design something fun, colorful and non-traditional. “The youth were very vocal about wanting the design to be inclusive,” Bettcher said. “So I just kind of sat back and let them give all of their ideas.”
After brainstorming over Zoom calls, the group incorporated several ideas into the final design. “I enjoyed that we got to create it together and come up with ideas,” said 15-year-old Tia Campbell. “I really wanted the tree on it. I thought that was cute.”
The tree concept is 15-year-old Anthony Pete’s creation. “I said, ‘What if we do a tree design?’ and the rest of the group really went with it,” Pete said. “A close second was we were going to do a cat with a Band-Aid on it, but the Band-Aid didn’t end up looking right. So we went with the tree.”
Bettcher said the tree has many meanings. “Tia said it shows growth,” he said. “Someone else said, ‘It’s a family tree since we are all chosen family.’ It was great just to see all the youth come together and see everyone respond favorably to the design.”
Pete says responses to the design outside the group have been favorable too. “I don’t regret anything about the design in general,” he said. “I’m very proud to wear it around the house or outside. People have been giving me compliments about it — I love it.”
Campbell adds that the black fabric is “extremely comfortable” and “breathable.” “Honestly, I love it,” she said. “It’s perfect for summer.”
Finn Sasha, 16, only joined the program recently and wasn’t around for the design process. Still, he said he is pleased with the results. “When I got it and looked at the colors, I loved it,” he said.
All three youth say that the center’s youth program is a blessing and beneficial to them.
“I am coming up on two years now,” Campbell said. “I love the community, and I love learning different stuff … things that are actually helpful, that will impact me at some point.”
Sasha, the newbie, agreed. “It’s only been a few weeks so far but, honestly, I feel more welcome than I have anywhere else,” he said. “Before going there, I didn’t really know any people my age who were on testosterone or had the experience that I did. But I met people, and I just felt so safe, like I was a part of something.”
Pete said that for him, the youth group has been lifesaving. Self-identified as an extrovert, Pete said he really enjoys talking to people his age.
“So just being able to get on the computer and anticipating talking to other youth and learning about things we’re going to need in our future adult life is great,” he said. “It helps me stay mentally stable without driving myself crazy.”
The Affirmations youth group T-shirt is available for purchase at the center, which is located at 290 West Nine Mile Road in Ferndale. For hours and more information, visit goaffirmations.org.