On the first day of school, principal Linda Carr is looking forward to watching fathers grasp the hands of their children as they enter Union Elementary School.
The school is hosting its 2014 Million Father March (MFM), which is set for Monday, Aug. 25.
“It’s a way to get dads and male mentors involved with children,” Carr stressed. “Positive male role models are very important in children’s lives, especially the young ones.”
The MFM is sponsored by The Black Star Project in nearly 600 cities throughout the United States.
Organizers said the march has become a special day that fathers and men use to make a commitment to their children, families, communities and their country by showing their presence at a school.
“If they do not have a father figure that’s active in their life, we encourage them to bring an uncle or older brother,” Carr said.
Participants may also include grandfathers, foster fathers, stepfathers, cousins, caregivers and mentors.
Although this event is created by black men, people of any gender and ethnic identification are encouraged to participate. A special effort will be made to coordinate Latino fathers in La Marcha De Un Millón De Padres, the principal noted.
Organizers are asking businesses to give fathers and men two hours off for the occasion.
Carr is looking forward to participating again. Last year, organizers and pastors Al Carr and Ulysses Newkirk were encouraged to see more than 100 fathers walk their children to class.
“We felt that our dads really came out and supported us,” Carr said. “We want to see it continue.”
Union Elementary’s MFM committee would like to see a large presence of fathers again. Carr said it’s a part of the school’s goal to increase community involvement.
“We want to start the new school off with a bang,” she said, noting the involvement of fathers and other male role models would help to accomplish that goal.
In 2013, Union Elementary joined an estimated 1 million men, women and children nationwide in 630 cities. That amount is expected to increase by 100,000.
“Fathers’ involvement in education is one of the best ways to improve the academic performance of children,” stated Phillip Jackson, executive director of the Black Start Project, U.S.A., in a news release. “Gang recruitment, bullying and random violence go way down on any day when a group of men are at a school.”
According to research, children whose fathers take an active role in their educational lives earn better grades, score higher on tests, enjoy school and are more likely to graduate from high school and attend college.
“Better parents produce better communities, better schools, and better students with higher academic achievements,” Jackson said.
In addition, organizers believe children have fewer behavior problems when fathers listen to and talk with them regularly and are active in their lives.
Participators will be encouraged to volunteer throughout the year. This year, the march will feature the 300 Minute Reading Challenge, where fathers and men are encouraged to read with them for 30 minutes, for 10 consecutive weeks.
Carr said participants and their children can come to the school at 7:45 a.m. Monday, Aug. 25. School begins 7:45 a.m.
“I love the beginning of school,” Carr said. “Everybody is excited to be back. I like little people in my building. It’s going to be fun.”