"We want them to have fun without knowing they are learning"

FLINT, Michigan — A local business owner with a passion for STEM finds a way to combine his business with another to innovate a single facility.  

“Together with his digital media and my love for STEM, we came together with the idea for EAST Facility,” said Jon Blanchard, co-owner of EAST.

EAST which stands for Electronic Arts & Sports Training is a culmination of Blanchard’s business STEMLETICS and his partner Jordan Munerlyn’s graphic design company, Euro Effex. Blanchard’s idea behind STEMLETICS teaches students about STEM using athletics and hands-on activities kids enjoy doing. Munerlyn creates digital media for businesses; his clientele has included prominent Flint companies such as Eight One Zero and Bedrock.

EAST is looking forward to creating a unique educational experience for every individual who walks inside their doors. With it being located inside of Dort Mall, it adds to the youth programming that is coming to life inside. Other businesses like 475 Elite Training and For the Love of Dance Studio are inside the mall servicing the youth.

“We decided to get in with the whole theme that’s evolving from the Dort Mall which is youth programming specifically centered around sports," said Blanchard. "That’s one thing we definitely want to capitalize on is our sports development and sports training program."

Flint’s history of athleticism and STEM is important to EAST and their objective is to teach the youth just that. The city has a huge history of athletes who excel in professional sports organizations. In addition, the city was a huge benefit for the startup and success of General Motors. 

“With just the history that Flint has, I think that it’s important to stick to those roots and teach the kids why those two are important," said Blanchard. "That’s why I think EAST is very important for our community."
A participant works on their swing on the facility's golf simulator.
Aside from learning the city's history, he believes having a strong athletic foundation will help the youth in all aspects of life when it comes to teamwork and working together.

In 7th grade, a youth engineering program “Youth of Tomorrow” at Kettering University taught Blanchard the different aspects of engineering and exposed him to things he wouldn’t normally experience. With EAST, Blanchard wants to get through to students and give them the options, motivation, tools, and mentorship. Like how many of his mentors and coaches helped him while growing up, he wants to give back and continue the cycle by encouraging the children to give back. 

EAST ran their first summer camp for youth in July running through early August. The positive feedback from the kids was immense. The facility provides a classroom setting with mounted TVs on the walls, laptops for students to use, a backroom with golf and hockey training equipment, and a golf simulator. The equipment is used to help students grow as athletes in those areas of sports.

“I think at this time, it’s needed more than ever to have something that’s fun, a program that isn’t just instruction, instruction, instruction," Blanchard said. "We like to have fun. We want them to have fun without them knowing they are learning."

The facility plans on being open full-time and partnering with different organizations for sports that aren’t accessible to students in the community. EAST also wants to bring in professional athletes from Flint to talk to their students about the importance of having a balance between academics and athletics. 

The co-owners experience in business and working with the youth for more than five years made the culmination process of EAST simple. Although giving back to the youth is important, the company's biggest hope is to create programming that students won’t forget.

For more information on EAST and to register, visit them on Facebook.

Read more articles by Miriam Bingham.