Lyndon Brown of the 13th Avenue School Parent Teacher Association in Newark, NJ is on a mission to help create upstanding and well-educated young men in his community. He believes that it is important to create resources and methods for networking to the families in the area. With numerous programs and opportunities to connect, not only are men of all ages reaping the benefits, but the families as a whole are made stronger by the many offerings provided through Brown and his team.
One Voice: What is the main goal of your particular unit as it pertains to servicing your community?
Lyndon: We try to create partnerships and networks for parents so that they can be more self-reliant, more productive and connected to local community leaders. One way that we do that is by hosting ‘Meet the Leaders’ nights where families are able to come and meet local officials and community leaders, which in turn creates resources for them to use to meet any needs that they may have. We are the primary source linking them to the individuals that they would not otherwise have the opportunity to network with.
One Voice: What types of programs, events, etc. do you provide to create and promote engagement from the urban child and their families?
Lyndon: We have family engagement events and various clubs such as the Father’s Club for fathers specifically, special needs parent’s group for those parents who are raising children with special needs and may need support or assistance, and the Blue Moon Club for those individuals who may only be able to volunteer “every blue moon.” We create opportunities for them to do that. We also provide a PTA directory for fathers that lists local barbers, mechanics, etc. within the PTA family. This creates a sense of comradery and an in-house resource so they do not have to look far for what they need. We have also been focusing on Latino families this year and assisting them with getting acclimated to life in America. Next week we will begin to offer free English as a Second Language (ESL) classes and GED classes for Latinos to participate in.
One Voice: I understand your main target is boys and young men. What type of resources do you have specifically catering to them?
Lyndon: The goal is to provide as many helpful services to them as we can. We have youth summits, a boys to men group, a study café where they can come and do homework and/or study for tests anytime they need to, and peer mentoring. We also have a Diplomas to Degrees program to help them through the high school and college stages of their lives. One more resource are motivational speakers that have careers in fields such as law enforcement, business ownership, etc. that come throughout the year and talk to the youth. That has proven to be very appealing to them and helps them see how much success they can create in their own lives.
Shaina Croom is the Editorial Specialist at National PTA in Alexandria, VA. Contact Shaina at firstname.lastname@example.org.