With smiling faces, Detroit children flocked to Chandler Park last week.
In participating in the Detroit Pistons’ Neighbors Program, laughing kids chased rolling basketballs across the colorful court on Detroit’s east side.
The sight brought a grin to the face of city resident Marie Streety, who closely watched her two small children and a nephew play.
“We live less than a mile away from here and there’s usually not much going on around here for the children,” she said. “To finally have a summer program out here is great and I really wanted to check it out.”
Streety is just one of many parents who have benefitted from the weekly program that provides healthy and free outdoor programming at Chandler, Palmer, Pingree, Rouge and Romanowski parks through Sept. 4. The free programming runs Wednesdays through Sundays and begins at 3:00 p.m daily. The Neighbors Program is funded by the Detroit Pistons, the William Davidson Foundation and the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation.
“When the Pistons moved back downtown, we made a commitment to be impactful and be all-in on the city,” Pistons vice chairman Arn Tellem said when this year’s programming was announced. “Through our partnerships, we introduced the Pistons Neighbors Program to activate Detroit parks that include newly renovated basketball courts and provide free outdoor activities for families and youth to participate in and enjoy throughout the summer and into the fall.”
This summer, the partnership was expanded to include the Detroit Parks Coalition, which is a collaboration between some of Detroit's largest park organizations. The Pistons have worked closely with the city of Detroit to prioritize parks and recreation centers in communities that have lacked outdoor centers. Weekly food pantries offering free produce and snack packs are provided by the Eastern Market Farm Stand.
“I think it is definitely suitable for children of all ages,” Streety said. “There’s not really an age restriction on having fun or early involvement in things. My son and daughter have been enjoying just being outside and running around with other kids.”
The program is an example of the commitment the Pistons and owner Tom Gores have made to the city of Detroit, a commitment that was highlighted earlier this summer when Gores announced a $20 million donation to build a 25,000 square foot community center and renovate the swimming area at Rouge Park on the city’s west side.
“We’re making sure that there’s recreational opportunities in these particular areas and something like this just provides more for the community,” Detroit Parks & Recreation assistant director Ricardo Marble said earlier this summer. “The community has been asking for it and for (Pistons owner) Tom Gores and the Detroit Pistons to come along and provide that type of support it’s just a huge lift to the community overall.”
Founded in 2019, the Neighbors Program is an extension of the Pistons’ “Basketball for All” initiative through which the Pistons have renovated basketball courts and donated basketballs to Detroit’s youth. It’s part of the organization’s six-year court refurbishment project with the city that was launched as part of the Pistons’ move back to Detroit in 2017. The courts project enters phase five of completion this summer with 52 courts in 37 parks being completed by the end of 2022.
To participate and sign up for programming and activities at one of the five parks visit www.pistons.com/neighbors. Registration can also be accommodated in person at each park