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Posted on Wed, Dec 28, 2011 : 5:56 a.m.

Eighth-graders launch campaign to bring 2018 Youth Olympics to Ann Arbor

By Danielle Arndt

Three students at Ann Arbor Open School have formed an organization to bring the Youth Olympic Games to Ann Arbor and the University of Michigan in 2018.


Matthew Ferraro and Genera Fields do research in the Ann Arbor Open School library in preparation for their Wednesday meeting to share with the community about their efforts to bring the 2018 Summer Youth Olympics to Ann Arbor.

Chris Asadian |

Matthew Ferraro, 14, at first was a little embarrassed to tell his friends, Genera Fields and Claire Benard, about his idea.

He knew he was dreaming big, but the self-proclaimed “Olympic nerd” said Ann Arbor offers something the other bidders for the 2018 Youth Olympics don’t have: community.

“We’re a safe, small town in comparison,” Ferraro said.

So far the cities that have announced bids are Monterrey, Mexico; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Medellin, Colombia; Abuja, Nigera; and Dagastan, Russia.

“We’re small, but yet we fit 114,000 people in here every Saturday,” Fields said, referring to when there is a home University of Michigan football game. “We’re close to the airports in Detroit and we have an excellent busing system.”

The trio has it all planned out, from the fields and the stadiums to the U-M dormitories for the Olympic village.

There were 500 athletes, a total of 3,600 people - including officials and coaches - that needed to be accommodated during the 2010 summer games.

The teens will host an informational meeting about their plan for members of the community at 5:45 p.m. Wednesday at the Ann Arbor District Library. They hope the meeting will launch a “domino effect” of excitement, interest and volunteers, Fields, 13, said.

The group will need to act fast. In order for the Youth Olympics to come to Ann Arbor in 2018, Ann Arbor must be nominated by the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) no later than March 1, 2012.

The host city for the 2018 Summer Youth Olympics will be declared in June 2013.

The teens currently are attempting to spread the word about their meeting and efforts by using fliers and contacting various city officials, U-M and the Ann Arbor Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Much of their success would hinge on U-M’s willingness to allow the Olympics to use the Big House for field events and the opening ceremony, the Donald B. Canham Natatorium, the Crisler Arena and other facilities.

Ferraro said the first step is gathering more supporters and convincing the city to pass a vote consenting to the group’s pursuit of obtaining the 2018 Games.

The first Summer Youth Olympics were hosted in Singapore in 2010. They were started to inspire young people around the world to participate in sports and to adopt and live by the Olympic values, according to the website.

Ferraro said the games would bring a lot of positive attention to Ann Arbor and help boost both the state and local economies. He also said being close to Detroit could give the city an edge.

"The International Olympic Committee knows who Detroit is, knows who Michigan is. So we are hopeful they'll be lenient and supportive considering between 1930 and 1972, Detroit was turned down a number of times to host the Olympics," Ferraro said. "They nearly got it in 1968.”

Fields said this is the Ann Arbor community’s opportunity to do something bigger than itself.

“I want to be able to look back as a 20-something year old and say, ‘Yeah, I made this happen and how cool is this,’” Fields said.

Ferraro designed a website to inform people of his and his friends' efforts. They also have a Facebook page in the works. Visit for more about making this happen.

Staff reporter Danielle Arndt covers K-12 education for Follow her on Twitter @DanielleArndt or email her at


Ryan Munson

Wed, Dec 28, 2011 : 7:32 p.m.

This is truly an original idea and really exciting! I wish those organizing the event good luck . I think this is something a lot of community people can jump aboard on with the vast resources of expertise in this area.


Wed, Dec 28, 2011 : 7:11 p.m.

Why all the Ypsilanti suggestions? These are Ann Arbor kids, and there is no reason to think that Ann Arbor and UM won't be totally welcoming and supportive of this! Kind of feeds my belief that a good majority of frequent posters on this site hail from towns other than AA.


Wed, Dec 28, 2011 : 6:59 p.m.

As an after thought? After the Harding and Kerrigan tango back about 20 years ago, Detroit has not had a National Comp since. Gee I wonder why.


Wed, Dec 28, 2011 : 6:57 p.m.

If EMU can get Kwame then I believe EMU can get these Olympics. I wonder what type will be on the roster. I hope these children succeed.

Lisa Dengiz

Wed, Dec 28, 2011 : 6:39 p.m.

Bravo to this bright, engaged, creative and visionary students!! There are many adults in this community, including me, that will be eager to serve as volunteers for your project. Please know how grateful and proud community is of your hard work and inspiring leadership!


Wed, Dec 28, 2011 : 5:55 p.m.

Wow, what a great idea, and big fat kudos to these kids with big ideas and big initiative! I will come to the meeting at the AADL to show my support and help in any way I can.

J. A. Pieper

Wed, Dec 28, 2011 : 4:48 p.m.

I applaud you for your efforts, this is a perfect example of how being an Ann Arbor Public School student is working! When our young people can make this kind of effort to set up something that benefits others, this is great! Must have very supportive parents and TEACHERS!

Charley Sullivan

Wed, Dec 28, 2011 : 4:47 p.m.

Go for it. First move, ask for a meeting with Bill Martin, to assess feasibility and interest within the USOC and U-M. From the university's perspective, it would be a great international marketing opportunity. But also, don't forget EMU also has great facilities. I'll be glad to help you figure out how to set up the rowing venue!


Wed, Dec 28, 2011 : 1:42 p.m.

Good Luck with U of M! Look the way they treat the students who are going to the bowl game? Why should they treat you any better? As for the City of Ann Arbor, Good Luck!

Jim Mulchay

Wed, Dec 28, 2011 : 1:34 p.m.

The crux of the issue - "Much of their success would hinge on U-M's willingness..."; If these young people can get the university on board, they have a chance. The DDA could also "champion" their cause if they felt it was in their best interests. Alas, I'd suspect they'd have a better level of collegiate support from Wayne State, Central, Eastern, Western, etc. - and possibly the best response from Grand Valley. I believe Eastern had an AAU or similar organization a few years back using the Convocation Center, Rynearson (Track & Field), Oestrike (baseball) and the pool.


Wed, Dec 28, 2011 : 11:32 a.m.

To bring down cost and time to degree, High Speed Universities fundamentally changed the business model of higher education. Traditional universities, with their residence halls, football teams, laboratories and theaters, would have difficulty following in High Speed Universities footsteps.