Rally promotes fathers’ involvement

Published 9:33 pm Friday, August 10, 2012

A father watches his children play on the playground at last year’s back-to-school rally. The “Fathers as First Teachers on the First Day of School” event encourages dads to take their children to school and continue to be involved.

A back-to-school event by a local nonprofit organization is promoting the involvement of fathers in their children’s lives.

The “Fathers as First Teachers on the First Day of School” rally will include a family picnic, gospel fest, free horseback rides, puppet shows, parenting resources, a gang awareness seminar and more.

Fathers will be encouraged to take their children to school on the first day and will be able to sign up to pledge their support.

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“We believe our efforts will eventually lead to increased public safety, poverty reduction and create more tax-paying, productive citizens,” said Princella Johnson, founder of the Y2K Academy, which is sponsoring the event. “We developed this initiative out of our growing concern over the region’s AYP failures and increasing school drop-out rates.”

The event will be held Aug. 18, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at Epps Farm Supply/Three Sisters Berry Farm and Market, 2170 Joshua Lane. Fathers, mothers and children are all invited to participate in the free event.

While the event could be seen as a typical back-to-school rally, it specifically encourages fathers’ participation, because the involvement of fathers motivates young people to succeed.

“Fatherlessness in the community and in our country in general is a serious scourge on any community,” Johnson said. “By mobilizing these fathers, we will impact our youth tremendously.”

According to a 2001 U.S. Department of Education study, highly involved biological fathers had children who were 43 percent more likely to earn mostly A’s and 33 percent less likely to repeat a grade than their peers who did not have involved fathers.

“That’s one of the reasons we must engage dads in the schools,” Johnson said. “This is our effort to start on the ground level improving the school performance of our students in Suffolk.”

During the event, sponsors will give away 200 pairs of new or gently used shoes on a first-come, first-served basis, and backpacks will be given out to those who have pre-registered.

A representative from the Office of the Attorney General will be on hand for the gang awareness presentation.

Games of all sorts will be available for kids, and they also will have the opportunity to get free horseback rides.

“Some children never get an opportunity to ride a horse,” Johnson said.

Dads who want to sign up to take their kids to school, but cannot attend the event, should text “DadB2S” to 59769, Johnson said. Fathers from all over the country are encouraged to show their support. They then are encouraged to take pictures or video of dropping their kids off at school.

“Our goal is to mobilize fathers to take their children to school on the first day of school,” Johnson said.

People attending the event are encouraged to register so organizers have an idea for refreshments, Johnson said.

Churches also are encouraged to set up tents at the event.

To register to attend, register for backpacks or get more information, call 925-4545 or visit www.y2kacademy.webs.com.