Many of us are members of a generation that was raised by the village – a village of parents; concerned neighbors; wise elders; and business, community and religious leaders who collectively mentored us, pushed us to “do more, want more, and be more,” and enforced a strict code of conduct. In many ways, and for many reasons, the village that helped to positively shape our minds and souls as we made the journey from childhood to adulthood has changed.
Some will tell you that the village no longer exists.
Others ask: “Can the village be saved?”
And then there are those who are quietly going about the business of rebuilding the village. . . .
Heralded by The New York Times as “one of the most ambitious social service experiments of our time”, the Harlem Children’s Zone Project (www.hcz.org) implements a “pipeline of free programs” that offer a holistic approach to positively shaping the minds and souls of our children – our bridge to the future – and rebuilding the village. The Honorable Barack H. Obama, President of the United States, has called for the creation of 20 “Promise Neighborhoods” in poor communities throughout the United States which will be modeled after the Harlem Children’s Zone Project (www.whitehouse.gov/omb/fy2010_key_education). The Harlem Children’s Zone Project (“HCZ”) operates The Baby College which is a workshop series provided for parents of children between the ages of 0-3. HCZ helps over approximately 10,000 children each year and is on a mission to give the children of Harlem a high-quality and well-rounded education. This mission is being accomplished through the Promise Academy Charter Schools which were created in partnership with the Harlem Children’s Zone, Inc. Children attending the three Promise Academy Schools in Harlem have an extended school day and year which provides them with the time they need to master basic English and mathematical skills and to explore the arts and sciences. Many children spend as much as 10 hours each day at the Promise Academy Schools. Students at these schools receive healthy freshly-made meals and participate in daily physical activity. The teaching staff at these schools and with the “after-school” staff work as a team in offering academic help to students and facilitating an assortment of classes which include chess, music, photography, and web design. Saturday classes are available to students who may need additional help in developing English and mathematical skills. The results achieved at the Promise Academy Schools have been phenomenal. As an example, 100% of the third-graders at Promise Academy II were at or above-grade level on the 2008 New York state-wide mathematics test. At Promise Academy I, 97% of the third-grade students were at or above grade-level in mathematics. Eighth-graders attending Promise Academy I Middle School achieved a score of 87% on or above grade level on the New York state-wide mathematics. These same students entered the Promise Academy I as sixth graders and were 2 and 3 years behind their grade level and only achieved a 40% score at grade level. The Harlem School Zone, Inc.’s Promise Academy has received an “A” rating for performance by the New York City State Department. And students receive free medical, dental, and mental health services courtesy of the Harlem Children’s Project which was established in 2006 at the Promise Academy’s Middle School building. This project is the result of a partnership with the Children Health’s Fund, Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, New York-Presbyterian Hospital and HCZ. The health clinic also works with elementary schools.
The health challenges that Men are experiencing in Canada, the United States, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia and the dire need for increased medical research and funding of research projects have transformed the critical state of affairs of Men’s Health into a global social policy issue. Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the Western world and it is estimated that approximately 382,000 new cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed each year in Europe alone. Statistics released by the American Cancer Society (www.cancer.org) estimate that in 2010, approximately 217,730 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed in the United States and that 32,050 American men will die of prostate cancer during 2010. On 23 June 2010, the European Cancer Patient Coalition (www.ecpc-online.org) which represents 300 cancer groups in 42 countries, launched its Forum Against Cancer Europe Initiative in the European Parliament and demanded that the European Parliament and other European institutions make the battle against cancer a political priority! During 13-17 September 2010, Urology Week 2010 (www.urologyweek.org), will be observed in countries throughout Europe which include Portugal, France, Russia, Italy, Czech Republic, Belgium, Bulgaria, Belarus, Hungary, Latvia, and The Netherlands. Urology Week 2010 is designed to raise awareness among the general public, particularly Men over 50, about prostate conditions and to urge Men to get medical check-ups on a regular basis. This event is supported by the European Association of Urology (www.uroweb.org), Europa Uomo (www.europa-oma.org), and various urological societies. If we are really serious about rebuilding the village and strengthening our families, we must make sure that all of its inhabitants – particularly Men -- have equal access to resources and support services which adequately address their unique health issues.
In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, history was made when Shared Parenting legislation in the form of House Bill 1639 (“H.B. 1639”) was passed by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives on 14 June 2010. H.B. 1639 (http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/billInfo/) which was sponsored by Pennsylvania State Representative The Honorable Kathy Manderino (Democrat – Montgomery County, Philadelphia County) provides courts with a mandate not to assume that custody of children should automatically be granted to a parent solely based on gender. Under the proposed legislation which awaits passage by the Pennsylvania Senate, judges would be provided with a framework to use when making decisions in relocation cases – a framework which includes deciding “how a move would enhance the quality of life for the child”. In contested custody cases, H.B. 1639 would require each parent to provide a parenting plan. Pennsylvania legislators who supported H.B. 1639 are helping separated, divorced, and non-custodial Fathers maintain a dominant presence in the lives of their children. And Fathers are one of the key architects for rebuilding a village.
We cannot afford to lose another generation of children! Let’s rebuild the village! Let’s aggressively address Men's unique health and parenting issues, and create and sustain efficiently functioning family units and academic institutions and curricula which prepare our children to become successful and productive adults in a global market place. Our children deserve to inherit a better and safer world.
After all, isn’t really about the children?