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Detroit Merit Students Receive Balance Boxes Filled with Interest-based Activities

Detroit Merit Charter Academy (DMA) recently partnered with Balance Boxes as a way to supply students with resources that aligned with their interests.

Detroit Merit students receive Balance Boxes

Meg Atwood, kindergarten teacher at DMA, brought Balance Boxes to the school. Balance Boxes is a youth-led registered 501(c)3 that provides students in low-income communities with academic and enjoyable activities. Each box is created with a designated theme; this is done to ensure the boxes can be made to the child’s liking. Balance Boxes include books, educational games, school supplies, a theme-related toy, art project, and game. Boxes are also equipped with an easy-to-make meal and kid-friendly snack to keep the child engaged in the activity.

“I thought the Balance Boxes would be great to bring to DMA because many of our students don't have board games, crafts, or books at home and this was a great way to bring those things to them,” said Atwood. “My favorite part is that it is a student-run organization. These are young entrepreneurs that our students could look up to and maybe someday they will join the organization and give back to the community.”

Boxes were delivered to roughly 350 kindergarten through third-grade students. Students practiced gratitude by making cards and videos thanking the young entrepreneurs for the boxes.

Detroit Merit students plant a school garden

DMA students loved telling the teens or teachers what they were interested in and getting a bag that was geared to their interests. Some different themes were dinosaurs, animals, cars, space, arts and crafts, airplanes, Sesame Street, sports, dance, friendship, and more. Many parents emailed Atwood to tell her that their child was excited when they got home to show their parents the "cool" bag they got at school. 

“This aligns with gratitude because in the past, older students who have received theses boxes have joined the organization to give back as a thanks for the gift they had once received,” said Sandra Terry-Martin, principal at Detroit Merit.

Atwood shared that the goal is to get a bag in the hands of all DMA students and her hope is that some of their students will join this organization someday and give back to the community they grew up in. “It's refreshing to see teenagers doing so much good and being positive role models to our youth,” she shared.

Detroit Merit student planting vegetables

In addition to receiving the boxes, students have been busy at work practicing the art of patience and care. Third graders planted school gardens, which will be tended by summer learning students.

“The gardens allow the students to better understand where their food comes from,” said Terry-Martin. “It teaches them how much work goes into growing, tending, and harvesting crops. They study nutrition in class and learn what foods are healthy choices, and the gardens help reinforce this. Students will make DMA salsa at the end when we harvest as their healthy snack. It is also something that they can replicate at home.”

About Detroit Merit Charter Academy
Detroit Merit Charter Academy is a tuition-free, public charter school in Detroit, Michigan, serving students in kindergarten through eighth grade. It is part of the National Heritage Academies network, which includes more than 100 tuition-free, public charter schools serving more than 65,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade across nine states. For more information, visit

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