EAST ORANGE, NJ — When it comes to representation, it’s important for children to know that there’s no ceiling for their dreams. Role models are important, especially within the black and brown communities. Thus, East Orange launched its 10,000 Fathers Initiative beginning Sept. 8, 9 and 10, with volunteer role models welcoming students back to in-person learning for the first time since March 18, 2020.
“The 10,000 Fathers Initiative focuses on building engagement and rapport between fathers and father figures in East Orange and our younger generation,” East Orange spokesperson Connie Jackson said on Sept. 13. “The initiative is designed to make sure that fathers, father figures and male community leaders show consistent support for young people throughout the year.
“The plan is to have at least 10,000 men in the community be available to help our young people throughout the school year, at various levels, from field trips and sports to one-on-one mentoring and peer counseling,” she continued. “The launch of the initiative began with the three-day welcome during the first week of school and a Fathers Brunch hosted by Mayor Ted Green, the East Orange City Council, the Department of Recreation and Cultural Affairs, and the East Orange School District. That event will be held at East Orange Campus High School on Sept. 24 at 11 a.m.”
According to Jackson, all men in the community are welcome to participate.
“We know that when we put the time in to show up for our youth, the impact is immeasurable,” Green said Sept. 13. “And now, with COVID-19 and so much uncertainty, it is more important than ever to open up communication between our generations and to commit to supporting them however we can. This program is going to be a resource and an outlet for many of our youth who need our village more than ever.”
According to Jackson, the program launch was a success.
“We had a great show of force Sept. 8 through the 10 when men spread out across the community to welcome our children back to school,” Jackson said. “In addition to cheering on children as they walked into school, Mayor Ted Green, City Council members, EOSD Superintendent AbdulSaleem Hasan, EOPD Police Chief Phyllis Bindi and EOFD Fire Chief Andre Williams visited several classrooms and offered words of encouragement and support.
“Our hope is that fathers, children and families grow stronger together. East Orange is one city, one community, with one goal, and that goal is progress.”
Photos Courtesy of East Orange