The Fort Wayne Commission on African American Males is hosting its annual back to school event, to prepare students for school and inspire fathers to get more involved their children’s education. The 3rd Annual Back to School Fatherhood Initiative will be 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 8 at McMillen Park Community Center, 3901 Abbott St.
The event includes a Community Forum and recognition awards of four local fathers who have been active in the Fort Wayne community: Dr. Al McGee, orthopedic surgeon who works to get more minorities into health care careers; Tom Macon, longtime coach and board member for the Metropolitan Football League; Leroy Jackson, longtime union leader, who advocates for getting more minorities into jobs in the building trade industry and Timothy Russell, veteran police detective and public television program coordinator.
The event will also include the giveaway of backpacks and supplies to the first 400 fathers or male mentors who sign up to take the Fatherhood Initiative pledge. The pledge calls for fathers to take their children to school on the first day of and stay involved during the school year.
“We are extremely pleased to host the 3rd Annual Fatherhood Initiative,” said 6th District Councilman Glynn Hines, event coordinator. “We want to make sure all students are prepared and ready on the first day of school.”
“With everything going on in our community – the unemployment, underemployment and other issues – now is the time to re-engage fathers in the lives of our children and their education,” said Andre Patterson, chair of the Commission. “We know that, with the involvement of fathers in education, grades go up and delinquent behavior goes down.”
“Daily guidance, purpose, and reverence; sharing dreams and possibilities of the future, and having the confidence of knowing someone cares,” said Bennie Lewis, manager of Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation Neighborhood Programs. “These simple things are the reasons why it’s important for fathers to be involved in the lives of children.”
The Back to School event will also include free food and a Community Forum to discuss ways the community can help design the best use of the McMillen Park Community Center, a former skating rink that was renovated and reopened as a multipurpose activity center in 2014.
Sponsors for the Back to School event include Parkview Health, the City of Fort Wayne Parks & Recreation Department and the Fort Wayne Urban League. The Fort Wayne Commission on African American Males is hosting the event.
The local Back to School Initiative coincides with a national movement to get fathers more involved in their children’s education. The “Million Father March,” led by the Black Star Project, takes place in more than 700 cities nationwide and encourages father to take their children to school on the first day.