A newly established non-profit company is up and running in Detroit and is making a strong push to create a “happier and healthier city.” Built from the ground up by Midtown homeowners Nicholas Mukhtar and Eric Holka, Healthy Detroit aims to make a lasting effect on the city, and in turn, the entire country.
“The long-term goal for Healthy Detroit is to create a society where active, healthy living is the way of life. In doing so, we can become a model that helps shift the urban landscape across the country. We want every Detroit resident to have the education, resources, and empowerment they need to live healthy and happy lives,” explained Mukhtar.
Mukhtar, originally from Metro Detroit, has always been very passionate about advancing and being part of the solution for Detroit, partaking in numerous projects throughout the city such as interning for Mayor Bing, tutoring at DPS elementary schools, mentoring at-risk children, and many other philanthropic projects throughout the city of Detroit. Holka, also a strong advocate for Detroit’s advancement, is currently working on his Master’s degree at Oakland University in Critical Culture and Community.
The Healthy Detroit founders are very dedicated to their goal, making what they feel are the necessary sacrifices to help their company succeed, some sacrifices bigger than others. Mukhtar is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Public Health from John Hopkins (mostly online) and intends to earn a medical degree in addition to that, but his dedication to Healthy Detroit’s success has cause him to put off med school for a year.
He talked about delaying his med school pursuits saying “I’ve been motivated by what’s happening in Detroit. It was worth it to put off medical school and join in the rebuilding of Detroit. I’ve always viewed what we’re doing as being bigger than me, and the same goes for what’s happening in the city.”
As far as specifics go for Healthy Detroit, in the long run they intend to have every Detroit elementary school registered and certified as a “Healthy Detroit School.” Which would entail all Detroit elementary schools meet a certain standard or criteria in terms of providing students with a healthy lifestyle in order to earn the merit of being a “Healthy Detroit School.” Healthy Detroit also intends to develop seven District HealthParks, as Mukhtar explains, “These HealthParks will serve as the communal center of each District, essentially giving each District a ‘downtown’ and starting point for redevelopment. Life in the neighborhoods will center around these HealthParks, and residents can go to them for everything they need to live a more active lifestyle. This includes sport recreational facilities, walking, jogging, biking paths, inspirational art, a District Market, a District Community Center, and District Health Clinic. The parks will be built to be self-sufficient including solar lighting, reclaimed material, private security, etc., ensuring minimal reliance on city services.”
Healthy Detroit plans on joining six other non-profits who have very specific roles and duties that will go into creating the HealthParks, as well as aid from the State and City to help with construction. Healthy Detroit will also seek support from corporations, although they expect the majority of the project funding to come federally through the Public Health Fund.
Healthy Detroit has a partnership with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Federal Government, and is also an initiative of the National Prevention Strategy (NPS) which was commissioned by President Obama and the United States’ Surgeon General under the Affordable Care Act. The NPS calls for state, local, public and private partners to work together in shifting the focus of healthcare in our country to one centered around healthy living.
Healthy Detroit is the first non-profit partner in the country formed for the exclusive purpose of the implementing the NPS. They were one of three organizations recognized nationwide by the US Surgeon General in the 2013 Annual Status Report to Congress.
Holka is especially focused on rebuilding the neighborhoods throughout Detroit, with community and culture in mind. Healthy Detroit believes that the neighborhoods are what made the city a special place to be in the first half of this century and believe a revival of those areas is the first stepping stone in reshaping the city. The HealthParks would be an integral factor in bringing the neighborhoods together. Healthy Detroit with Mukhtar and Holka are driven and determined to make a difference, loving that they have a chance to help the people and city they love while also giving children more opportunities in life than they may not have had otherwise.
Join the movement!
For more information on Healthy Detroit, visit their website at HealthyDetroit.org