[Newark, NJ – February 29, 2016] – Over 200 people gathered at the Luis Munoz Marin School for Social Justice this weekend to celebrate Black History Month and encourage students and parents to learn more about culture and history. The event – hosted by the Newark Public Schools’ (NPS) the D.A.D. Network (Dads Are Dynamite) and radio personality DJ Naturalist – featured live musical performances, an interactive West African Dance performance highlighting Alvin Ailey, a step show, trivia contest, as well as educational and engaging activities and vendors.
“It is so imperative that parents and father figures are engaged in and supportive of their child’s education,” said Superintendent Christopher D. Cerf of NPS. “This event was a great opportunity for families not only to learn together but to celebrate Black History Month as a community.”
The City of Newark presented a resolution to the D.A.D. Network in recognition of their great work to inspire more male role models to become more engaged at home and within the community. The D.A.D. Network is an initiative designed and implemented by the NPS Head Start Program that focuses on strengthening and encouraging a network of fathers and father figures to become more self-aware, resilient and engaged in their children’s lives. The network continues to support members as they become stronger leaders within their homes and communities all while emphasizing the importance of education and family and community engagement.
“I like the D.A.D. Network. It has impacted my life because I never had a dad to do what I am able to do for my son. I enjoy every part of it,” said Hyidril Miller of Newark. “I would encourage more dads to be a part of the D.A.D. Network because it gives them a chance to be with their kids and see other fathers doing it too. It can inspire more dads to be even more active in their child’s lives.”
The event also featured a Black History Month Family Trivia Contest. Participants were given a study guide to prepare for the competition complete with 115 possible trivia questions and answers. After the show, families had lunch and participated in several contests.
“Our D.A.D. Network fathers made a powerful statement by envisioning and implementing this event that will forever live in the memories of their children, families and community,” said F. Nana Ofosu-Amaah, Executive Director of the Office of Early Childhood at NPS. “Our fathers demonstrated that they are deeply invested in their children’s lives and education by ensuring that the next generation is rooted in their culture and heritage. What a great way to end Black History Month this year.”
Families also visited with vendors that featured African print-making with the Newark Museum, coloring, face painting and health education, among other activities. Attendees left with a number of prizes and gift bags including books about African American history.
“We were so impressed with the number of families that came out together to celebrate Black History Month with us. We are lucky to have such engaged and dedicated role models participating in our community,” said Samantha Lott-Velez, Head Start’s Program Director. “We look forward to working with the D.A.D. Network to organize more events that encourage more families to take an active role in their children’s education.”
The D.A.D. Network is made up of fathers and father figures of children enrolled in Newark’s Head Start program, which promotes early learning, health and well-being in children ages three to five from low-income families. This is the third event the organization has hosted in the last year including a toy drive and day where fathers took their children to school.
“I am so grateful to be a part of The D.A.D Network. It is very productive and it supports dads not just from Newark, but from every walk of life,” said Rahmain Wilson of Newark. “I look forward to doing even more things for the community and throughout not just Newark, but the United States. It encourages other dads to be there for their child. We get to know each other and to enjoy each other’s company and enjoy good vibes. It helps us to have a strong bond and allows us to communicate with one another.”