Back-to-school events offer new supplies last bit of summer fun – and the ability to connect communities
By Scott Dance, The Baltimore Sun
With students set to go back to school on Monday, a coalition of Muslim communities and Baltimore police organized separate events Saturday to help children get the most out of the season’s final days and prepare for classes to start. For the organizers, the event was also a chance to break barriers and stereotypes.
“We do not want to be judged by what is being portrayed in the media,” said Sabah Muktar, an employee with the Islamic Circle of North America‘s ICNA Relief organization that helped put the Warwick Park event.
The group ended with the Council on American-Islamic Relations, The Baltimore Teachers Union and local health organizations KEYS Development and Bach’s Health Care to give out hundreds of backpacks and books and even free haircuts.
Many families visited the park Saturday had never met Muslims but left express a positive impression.
“It’s been really great to get this kind of feedback,” said Muktar.
They also left with necessary supplies. The teachers’ union gave out books for all ages, with specials including one called “Born to Run!” featuring Dr. Seuss’ Cat in the Hat, others Dora Explorer and another called “I’ll Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato.” Many city children live in homes where there is nothing to read, said Kenya Campbell, president of the union teaches chapter.
“We are struggling to get what we can get,” says Tarrell windman, whose 3-year-old daughter into pre-kindergarten, Latasha Thomas, back with a new purple backpack.
in the meantime, at Druid Hill Park, Baltimore police held a picnic offering free food, music and dancing, and the moon bounce playpens in a celebration of summer’s end meant to repair ties between the officers and the community.
Along with dozens of police officers in attendance were many police cadets dressed in khaki pants. Police Chief Kevin Davis said the department recently expanded Cadets training from six months to seven months to make time for them to participate in local events like Saturday’s.
“It absolutely had to be done,” organizer Antwan Campbell, who performs as DJ Twizz, said of the event, as he and Davis said they hope coming back every year. “The police need us and we need them.”
Janasha Jackson brought her 6-year-old son, Terry, because he wants to be a police officer one day. For others who may not have such a positive view of law enforcement, but the event was a good move, a resident of Beechfield in Southwest Baltimore said.
“They do not notice the positive, they do,” said Jackson.
While some children were too busy playing to think of the school days ahead, others were ready for Monday.
“I can not wait to go back to school,” soon-to-be fourth degrees Keshawn Gross said as a volunteer barber finalizing his haircut at Warwick Park.
“It looks fresh,” his aunt, Summer Randall told him.
Then it was time for the next customer, a boy with a mop of curls summer and sweat dripping down his temple.
Article Courtesy: The Baltimore Sun