All posts by Toni

About Toni

A mom-preneur, writer, poet, and lover of children and life. Looking for nothing but joy in this lifetime!

Daddy Daughter Dance 2017 Philadelphia

The Daddy Daughter Dance; it’s not just a party it’s an investment in her emotional well being.

TODAY, June 17th is the eighth annual Daddy Daughter Dance. It takes place again this year in Philadelphia at the Hilton Hotel  from 6-pm. The event started as the idea of the founder of Daddy UniverseCity who recognized the significance of the bond between father and daughter. With all of the bullying, school stress and social media influence in our young girls lives our daughters can easily fall victim to anxiety, depression, school suspension and low self-esteem without a strong father or father figure for support.

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Educator caught on tape belittling a young female student

I volunteer every year not just to support DaddyUniverseCity and their vision to support and educate fathers, but because of the beautiful stories that I see walking through the door. I’ve seen fathers with disabled daughters, grandfathers attending with their daughter and granddaughter, men with infants and diaper bags on their shoulder and young girls dancing with their little feet on top of their father’s for guidance. I’ve seen tears in the eyes of grown men and grown women alike and it’s obvious that it’s the first time they have spent this type of quality time with their father or child. There is not simply music, good food and tiaras but there is genuine healing of families and relationships happening after the tickets are purchased and the couples are seated. I see it in their eyes, I hear the conversations and feedback as they pour out of the ballroom drenched with joy. I am always filled with hope and fulfillment and while I wish I had the chance to attend once with my own Dad, I am ever so grateful that my daughter is sitting at the table every year with hers.

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The event started eight years ago with 50, last year over 500 were in attendance. If you don’t have your ticket, there may still be time but I wouldn’t wait much longer. Miracles are waiting.

www.dance8.eventbrite.com

Oh yes and Happy Father’s Day!

 

 

“Alice…Girl…I Feel You!”

“We must be mindful that when they come for your neighbor, they will come for you next. Alex Baldwin and Saturday Night Live aside, none of this is funny. A dangerously unbalanced megalomaniac is not merely sitting in the Whitehouse. He is sitting there with access to the nuclear codes. The people who surround him are sycophants who are afraid to tell him the truth. An entire level of experienced State Department executives and managers has resigned. A man with a badly fitting suit appears before journalists to say, “Who you gonna believe…your lying eyes, or me?” when it comes to the number of people attending the inauguration. All of this foolishness is occurring while another branch of government—the Congress—that couldn’t criticize President Obama enough, is acting like the 3 monkeys, see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil.”

Black&Smart

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“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.

“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”

“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.

“You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here.”

Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

As a young girl one of my favorite books was Alice in Wonderland by mathematician Lewis Carroll. The challenge the protagonist, Alice experienced was attempting to make sense of a world that was operating from the opposite side of her reality. I think I may have been attracted to Alice and her predicament because that was the way I felt in many academic and professional situations. When I left my community to attend a white junior high school and to take honors classes in my high school I experienced a world that was lived in direct opposition to…

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Fatherhood advice via new website for Daddy University

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Re-post of the January 8, 2017 article about Daddy University, a Fatherhood support resource, in the Philadelphia Tribune:

The leadership team at Daddy University has started off the new year with a brand new website to help guide fathers of all ages through parenthood.

Located at daddyuniv.com, the website offers a baby supplies checklist for new fathers, legal information and a place for fathers to share their story of challenge or triumph.

While the website is new, the male parenting education company Daddy University has helped fathers in the Philadelphia area since 2004.

For eight months out of the year, fathers come to the West Philadelphia YMCA to meet with President and CEO Joel Austin and discuss topics ranging from how to communicate with a rebellious teen to how to braid their daughter’s hair.

Austin, a father of four, was inspired to create Daddy University after taking his eldest son to a Big Brother/Big Sister class at a nearby hospital. While hospital staff taught his son how to change a diaper and help out mom and dad, Austin realized he needed to take notes too.

“I am now the head of my household, and the only one who has had no training in taking care of children,” Austin said. “Even my five-year old has had a better class than me.”

He decided enough was enough. First, Austin started researching lessons on childcare online. Most of his results were from maternity websites. Next, he and co-founder Edward McGee started meeting with focus groups. After those took off in popularity, Austin and McGee then launched the Fathers Club with a full class curriculum.

“It’s not about fatherhood over motherhood, it’s about having two educated parents to raise a child,” Austin said.

In the past, people have joined the Fathers Club through word-of-mouth or recommendations from social services. Attendance ranges from 50 to 100 people, from teen fathers to grandparents caring for their grandchildren.

One of the first lessons Austin teaches is personal responsibility. Instead of referring to the child’s mother by name, he tells the men in his class to use the phrase, “the woman I chose.” Austin also teaches parents how to communicate with their children. His solution-based lessons help parents create more time between reacting and responding to an issue.

“The biggest problem I have in my class is that many of my men are not taught conflict resolution,” Austin said. “The thing is, everybody can actually win.”

The Fathers Club classes cover the time between a child is born to adulthood. With his oldest children in their early 20’s, Austin says he doesn’t believe in 18 being the magic number.

“So you were dumb at 17-and-a-half, but for some reason at 18 you’re supposed to be given this miraculous gift from the heavens of knowledge?” he said. “Instead, he works with parents to develop an exit strategy so children can be successful after they leave the home.

“None of them are raising children,” Austin added. “They are raising somebody’s future husband, wife, mother or father.”

Other than weekly classes, Daddy University also offers a fatherhood conference, young male Conference, mother and son dance and a daddy and daughter dance. The daddy and daughter dance takes the form of a debutante ball, and ticket sales help fund Daddy University. About 50 people showed up to the first dance. Seven years later, more than 650 fathers took their daughters to dance.

“We didn’t realize that a lot of adult women would be bringing their dads as well,” Austin said. “Now, the ages of the event are three years old all the way up to 60 or 70.”

With the website now active, the leaders at Daddy University are now looking towards advocacy for parenting rights and expanding the Fathers Club to the South Philadelphia YMCA. Austin plans to continue guiding dads in parenthood.

“I want people to have fun with parenting,” he said. “Crawl on the floor as much as you can.”

Information and ways to donate to Daddy University are available online at daddyuniv.com.

mearls@phillytrib.com

(215) 893-5732

Teachable Moments; 6 things I wish I knew before my daughter’s brain injury

wp-1483807802159.jpgLife can change in a blink of an eye. It’s a phrase you hear often and never really “get” until it happens. One day my nine-year old was walking, reading Harry Potter novels repeatedly, running after her friends and swimming like a fish and it all ceased within the seconds that passed when she slipped on wet leaves, fell forward onto a wooden beam on the ground and injured her head. We have both gone through the difficult phases of grief and as a parent it’s just natural to wonder if there was something I could have done differently or sooner to help her heal. What I’ve learned with the help of my dear friends (and some strangers) who allowed me to release my fears and frustrations into their ears was that I had no control over this accident nor could I change the way I navigated my way  through the health care matrix to find the appropriate care for her. What I can do however, is share my experience so that another parent is better informed about brain injury in children than I was when this accident occurred so here goes…

6 Things I wish I knew before my child’s head injury:

  1. Keep them home from school the following day.

    Luckily her accident happened the day before a holiday and she was able to rest for three days before she returned to school. Some of her concussion symptoms did not present themselves until close to a week later but if I was aware of the protocol for children who fell and hit their head I would have taken her to the doctor the next day.

  2. Get an incident report

    In my daughter’s case no one saw her fall and I was at work and unable to see her until an hour or so after the incident. We all had to take her word for what happened. It’s best for insurance documentation to get an incident report from the school (or organization if your child is at day care, summer camp or sports). Most child care organizations are required to fill out a report and should give you a copy. If they don’t, ask for it.

  3. Even if your child has only one symptom, take him/her to the pediatrician for evaluation

    Refer to #1 above for the list of concussion signs and symptoms from the Center for Disease Control. I’ve learned that not every child exhibits symptoms in the same time frame and severity and it’s best to proceed on the side of caution and take them to the pediatrician for evaluation even if they complain of only a headache. Your doctor may tell you that protocol is to wait a week but I would insist on having your child seen anyway.

  4. Seek out a pediatric concussion specialist in your area.

    Not every neurologist or hospital ER has a wealth of experience with every age range and not every pediatrician specializes in brain medicine. It took almost a month of going to doctors and emergency rooms before I found a doctor that best suited my daughter’s needs. I am not sure why but her first doctor did not seem to have compassion for her and her immediate needs. I asked neighbors and friends in the medical field until I received a few referrals for her specialty. My next step was to check to see which were covered under our insurance which narrowed the list down further. We are located in Pennsylvania, but the Brain Injury Association in your area can provide a list of service providers. I have also learned that sometimes to connect with the right doctor, you have to be willing travel. Don’t be afraid to seek a second opinion. Our second doctor was the best fit for her.

  5. Contact your school district and county for resources

    It wasn’t until I sought out a second opinion, six weeks post injury that I was informed there was a school re-entry program specifically for children with brain injury. This consulting division of our county’s Intermediary Unit serves as a liaison between the school and families and provides you with the resources and support you need to transition your child back to school. Brainsteps, the consulting program in Pennsylvania is fully funded by the state. My daughter’s case manager has visited our home and provided such encouragement for my daughter and myself!

  6. Make self-care a priority; ask for help and don’t be too proud to accept it!

I had no idea how exhausting and stressful it would be mentally and physically to manage a household, business (I’m self-employed) and my daughter’s care after her brain injury. Luckily I have a “village” of friends who knew it would drain me and immediately offered to help. I didn’t want to bother anyone because I knew they all had families to support but my friend reminded me that there’s enough compassion in this world for everyone. She asked if she could set up a meal train which allows neighbors to sign up and bring home cooked meals to your family. I didn’t realize how much time I spent on preparing and cooking our meals until I didn’t have to! Other friends have come to visit, helped with laundry and housecleaning or sat with my children so I could go out to the movies or just sit still with a cup of coffee or have a glass of wine with a good friend. You have to find time for yourself away from the stress and strain where you can relax and release. The help is available but you have to ask for and allow yourself to receive the help. Genuine help is there ; you are better able to care for your child when you take the time to care for yourself.

You may have experienced brain injury, be a medical professional or have a young child who may one day be diagnosed with a concussion; either way I hope this has been helpful to you.

Feel free to share and comment here if this was helpful and please take a moment to become a friend on our Facebook Page for African American Parenting.

Thank you for visiting. Make today great!

 

 

 

Habari Gani? Imani! (Faith)

Kwanzaa kinara--Virgin IslandsHappy New Year! Heri Za Kwanzaa (Happy Kwanzaa) ! Wishing you an abundance of joy, love and all things positive in the coming year. It has been a while since African-American Parenting has posted and I am committed to sharing on a more consistent basis in 2017. The past year has been tumultuous and we have been watching the community struggle, fight and bravely stand up for the preservation of our families, children and neighborhoods. There have been a lot of innocent lives lost yet it is promising to see the eruption of organizations and movements committed to fighting against brutality, inequality and institutionalized racism.

Our focus at African-American Parenting is to not only inform but to be a place of support and resource for those families, parents and community organizations to gather, share stories and find comfort and unity. Please feel free to email us at africanamericanparenting@gmail.com if you would like to submit a story, essay to the blog. Also if you have an idea, question, problem or anything you would like to see addressed or published on the blog, feel free to leave it in the comment section below.

Please  visit and become a “friend” of our Facebook page for African American Parenting which is often updated with local (tri-state area of NJ, PA, DE) and sometimes national events that support and educate the African-American community.

By no coincidence, on the seventh and final day of Kwanzaa, Imani (Faith) our family prepares for a Karamu (feast) where we break bread and share libations, review the Nguzo Saba (seven principles) and symbols of Kwanzaa, honor our ancestors and enjoy the love and accomplishments of both elders and youth.

Following in this tradition, it is for us then a time to ask and answer soberly and humbly the three Kawaida questions: Who am I; am I really who I say I am; and am I all I ought to be? And it is, of necessity, a time to recommit ourselves to our highest ideals, in a word, to the best of what it means to be both African and human in the fullest sense. ~ From The Official Kwanzaa Website

It is the best way for us to bring in the new year. In the spirit of Imani, we call upon our ancestors for their wisdom and strength and use the energy of the day and the collective village to sustain and increase our faith. With the uncertainties of the coming year it is the most important weapon in my humble opinion.

Wishing you an abundant new year!

 

Ben and Jerry’s Support for the #BlackLivesMatter movement. 

Thank you #BenandJerrys for doing the right thing! Be the change you want to see in the world. 

“We want to be clear: we believe that saying Black lives matter is not to say that the lives of those who serve in the law enforcement community don’t. We respect and value the commitment to our communities that those in law enforcement make, and we respect the value of every one of their lives.

But we do believe that — whether Black, brown, white, or blue — our nation and our very way of life is dependent on the principle of all people being served equal justice under the law. And it’s clear, the effects of the criminal justice system are not color blind.”

Read the entire statement from Ben and Jerry’s here:

http://www.benjerry.com/whats-new/why-black-lives-matter

FREE Be Healthy Expo, August 13th, Camden NJ , Sponsored by CAMCare and Radio One. Fun for the entire family!

Free Health Screenings, Special guests, vendors, celebrity basketball game, line dancing and fun for the entire family! 10AM -4PM. 1865 Harrison Avenue, Camden NJ 08105

Be Healthy 2016 w CamcareBe Healthy General Tentative Outline

Work Shops

  • Chubbie’s (Kids Workshops for ages 5 – 12)
  • Ray and Joan Kroc Salvation Army Community Center Presentation
  • Local Physicians

Vendors Available From 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Indoor Fitness Activities

  • Line Dancing with Yolanda Sample – with Lady B
  • “Big Girl Work Out” with Praise 103.9 host Dezzie (Family Fitness)
  • Fit Camp Lite by WIT (Whatever It Takes) Fitness Group (Adult Fitness)

Outdoor Fitness Activities – Brought to you by The Army

  • Family Challenges

Celebrity Basketball Game

  • Hosted by Radio-One Talent, Musicians, Comedians, and Former Sports Players! We Also Have A Halftime Slam Dunk Contest!

Born of Warriors- Original Poetry inspired by the #PhilandoCastile murder

“Born of Warriors” Original Poetry to encourage parents during this time of heightened racism. Rise up from a place of strength and have faith that the lives lost will not be in vain. #blacklivesmatter #bornofwarriors

Toni's Room

Born of Warriors

Now is not the time to sit down and grow weary

For we are born of warriors

Trained on soil rich with the spirits that passed before us

We were selected from our tribe and trained for battle

Even stripped of our land, our riches and our families

We stood strong ushering the chained weary in front of us

Walking miles to the beach to meet our battle with the sea

Some were not strong enough to endure the nausea swaying beneath our ribs

Diseased corpses laying by, vicious attacks of salt water on open wounds

Watching the constant raping of wombs and deep screams of torment

Many were not trained for this battle and vanished into the sea at night for comfort

They were not capable of taking the journey so they took their own lives instead

But we did not

We are born of warriors

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Donna Ford interview on Closing the Achievement Gap

Donna Ford will be speaking at the S.E.N.G. Conference this year. This is a very comprehensive discussion on the factors that come into play when gifted students are underachieving. Visit S.E.N.G. for more information. The conference we attended several years ago was life-changing and provided the information, resources and support we needed to successfully fight for our gifted student’s acceleration at school.

 

 

 

June 25TH National Fatherhood Conference, Rescheduled – Philadelphia, PA

 

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Update: The Fatherhood Conference had to be rescheduled due to issues with the venue, but it is on and upgraded this Saturday! There will be prizes such as laptops given away for fathers and young men. Please come out 9am-3pm!

This is the eleventh year that Joel Austin, the founder of Daddy University has traveled throughout the city of Philadelphia from radio station to television interview, blog interview and social networking gatherings to convey his passion for combating fatherlessness and supporting men who desire to be the best Fathers their children need. There is an epidemic of fatherlessness in our communities which can be traced back to slavery, and is exacerbated by today’s judicial system that unfairly targets and prosecutes African-American men at an alarming rate. According to the NAACP Criminal Fact Sheet, one in six African-American men are in prison compared to 1 in 100 African American women.

We need our men. We need our men to be great leaders, providers and fathers. When previously incarcerated fathers are released into society, who is there to help them reconnect with their offspring? When young men become fathers and have no male figure in their lives, who will guide them and support them? When our husbands, sons and grandchildren need resources to help them learn good parenting and or/co-parenting skills, where will they go to seek help? The National Fatherhood Conference  is the answer.

This FREE conference held in the Philadelphia School District Education Center, 440 North Broad Street, Philadelphia PA in addition to free breakfast and lunch, provides numerous workshops on everything from custody to co-parenting, financial literacy, and even how to do your daughter’s hair. There is also LIMITED free childcare for those who register early, and a Young Men’s Conference for those who bring their sons between the age of 11 and 18. The Young Men’s Conference runs the same time as the Fatherhood Conference and they will also be provided breakfast and lunch if they register. The time to reach our young men is now, before they fall victim to the school to prison pipeline. Even if you are not a father or for some reason are not attending the conference, you can still register a young man and bring him to attend. The Young Men’s workshops include but are not limited to entrepreneurship, resolving conflict and dealing with “haters” as well as hygiene and financial literacy.

You can find out more information on the flyers above and below this post and by visiting the 11th National Fatherhood Conference registration page. African American Parenting will be in attendance and will post a picture of you and your child on our Facebook post to show all of the wonderful fathers and father figures in attendance. Register today and let us  applaud you for your desire to be the best father your child deserves!

Register Here —-> National Fatherhood Conference

We’ll see you at the Conference!

Young Men Conference