Fort Wayne & NE Indiana News

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4th Annual Back To School Event Promotes Fathers’ Involvement

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 4th Annual Back to School Fatherhood Initiative will be 10 a.m. to noon, Saturday, Aug. 6 at McMillen Park Community Center, 3901 Abbott St.

The event includes a youth panel discussion on leadership and recognition awards of four local fathers who have been active in the Fort Wayne community: Marshall White, CEO & founder of Unity Performing Arts Foundation; Jerrell Davenport, owner of Jerrell’s Barber Shop; Keristen “Big Kess” Baker, B96.9 radio personality and Rev. Anthony Payton, pastor of Come as You Are Church.

There will also be a video presentation and reflections from the Voices of Unity youth choir’s European Tour and performance at the Vatican in Rome, Italy.

The event will also include the giveaway of more than 500 backpacks and supplies to children of fathers or guardians who sign up to take the Fatherhood Initiative pledge. The pledge calls for fathers and guardians 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 Annual Fatherhood Initiative, again, this year,” said 6th District Councilman Glynn Hines. “We know how important it is to make sure all students are prepared and ready on the first day of school.”

Andre Patterson, chair of the Commission, said their goal is to continue encouraging fathers “to re-engage in the lives of our children’s education.” Because, he added, “We know that, with the involvement of fathers in education, grades go up and delinquent behavior goes down.”

The Back to School event will also include free refreshments. Event sponsors include

Parkview Health, the City of Fort Wayne Parks & Recreation Department, FW Sports Corp. and Fort Wayne Urban League.

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.

The Fort Wayne Commission African American Males, which was re-established by city ordinance in June 2013, includes representatives from throughout the community. The Commission works to enhance the lives of Black males in all areas and seeks to forge partnerships with other groups, organizations or entities who strive to achieve the same goal.