Circling the Wagons —
What do we as a people owe to and want for our children? The answers will probably differ from person to person. If we focus on the differences and insist one’s own answer is the correct one and the others are wrong – the result will be the continued quagmire where the focus is on personalities instead of systemic policies. A dialogue about effective and meaningful education for our children must include eliminating layers of ineffective, destructive policies within the school system or rescuing them from the system. A prerequisite for both requires defining and agreement on what a meaningful education is. We tend to gather and give energy to something or someone that we’re against but don’t establish agreement on a common definition of what’s needed – in other words, a common vision.
The recent event, “Healthy Black Child Development in the Age of Racism – The Challenges of Surviving & Navigating the School System”, sponsored by BNYEE, SEEDS, The MANY, and CPE presented a clear picture of the mental and emotional challenges African- Americans face.
Dr. Jamila Codrington, psychologist specializing in children, adolescents and families, cited systemic factors such as funding cuts, overcrowding, large numbers of Special Ed and ESL students, lack of culturally responsive teaching. Then followed a long list of familial factors citing that one in every 10 young person is affected by a serious emotional disturbance.
Dr. Robert Andrews, psychiatrist, shared the effects of stress and trauma on child development. Mental, physical and sexual abuse adds up cumulatively to emotional trauma that affects behavior, interpersonal relations. Emotional wounds, left untreated, plays a role in the lack of motivation which produces large percentages of Black children, especially boys in Special Ed, and fueling the pipeline from the education system to juvenile jails. Until each of us takes a stand and makes a commitment to our children, they will continue to be an endangered species.
Black New Yorkers for Educational Excellence and the Coalition For Public Education are necessary resources for relevant information about the school system. At home we must create ways to support our children in 1) realizing their gifts, 2) motivating them to excel, 3) providing them opportunities to create results. WE CAN NO LONGER ALLOW OUR CHILDREN’S LIVES TO BE DETERMINED BY OTHERS.
Home Works! Problem-to-Project is our contribution to empowering children and their families. Projects are chosen after parents’ children list areas of concern separately, beginning the process by creating a win-win vision to work toward. Adults and children are acknowledged for each step and their empowerment comes from experiencing the change they make in their environment. Not only do we create empowered individuals but sorely needed collaborative skills. For a detailed outline of programs, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
**Ages Birth to 5 years – StoryPlay with First RIF at Bedford Library – Fridays 11:00 AM to 12:00 PM. Earn free books with RIF. Info: call 718-623-0012.
**The African Film Festival continues through May 31st .For schedules and sites visit www.africanfilm.org. Kirikou. a kid’s favorite, returns in Kirikou and the Wild Beasts late May at Brooklyn’s BAMcinematek.
**WBGO’s 2011 Spring Kids Jazz Concert Series continues April 30th at Newark Museum and May 7th at NJPAC/Victoria Theatre. FREE – adults must be accompanied by a child.
Visit www.wbgo.org/kids for updates. Newark Penn Station is a 23-minute ride on PATHtrain.
** OBT (Opportunities for a Better Tomorrow): Provides on-the-job training/apprenticeship for urban youth in two locations in Brooklyn. For More info: www.obtjobs.org
**Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) – a seven-week summer employment initiative open to youth ages 14 – 24 who work up to 25 hours a week earning $7.25 perhour. Must apply by May 27th. For info call 311 or 1-800-246-464
**May 31:Application deadline for Teens and Businesses/Mentors who would like to participate in the Emmanuel Baptist Church Community Development Corporation’s Teens That Mean Business (TTMB) summer youth program. For more information: www.teensmeanbusiness.com.