Play Room Pops Up

Play Room Pops Up

More than 150 families have visited the Woodland Wonderland Stay and Play Room since its Sept. 1, 2015, opening and the end of last month.

The Play Room brings together children and their parents for fun and learning. It is free and open Tuesdays (4:30 to 6:30 p.m.) and Wednesdays (10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.) at the Cleveland Public Library Woodland branch on Woodland near East 55th Street.

Play Room Pop Up Care 2The Play Room is a partnership among Cleveland Public Library, Family Connections, and the Promise Neighborhood. It was created with the understanding that parents are their children’s first teacher. As such, the Play Room promotes parent-child engagement, stimulates language and motor skills, and exposes parent and child to a preschool-like setting.

Tatiana Wells, Promise’s early learning navigator, explains that the Stay and Play Room has been able expand its offerings this year. In April, it hosted a Mommy & Me Yoga program. At 11 a.m. Wednesday, May 25, the Nature Center at Shaker Lakes will visit and talk about small animals. They’ll even bring real animals! Call 216.921.2023 to register for this free program.

Play Room Pop Up Care 4Tatiana says the Play Room organizers also know residents prefer activities in their specific area within the larger neighborhood. So the Play Room has taken the show on the road. In February, it partnered with Care Alliance to visit its center and encouraged families in the East 22nd and Cedar area to attend.

Play Room Pop Up CareGena Austin, Care Alliance community engagement representative, helped plan the pop-up visit at the new health care facility. Pre-schoolers could receive a free dental cleaning. They and their parents also learned more about dental care and enjoyed the Play Room experience.

Play Room Facilitator Keesha Tolliver-Funches brought doctor-play kits, which included a lab coat and hat, books about visiting the doctor, and a preschool medical kit. The kits also enclosed dental, eye exam, and anatomy charts. Two other Family Connections staff members, Charniece Holmes and Salema Wiggins, read stories and engaged with the children and parents.

We also collaborated with CMHA self-sufficiency coordinator of Cedar Estates, Veda Graves. She mailed the fliers about the pop-up Play Room to all the residents with young children in the Cedar buildings.

We look forward to more pop-up Play Rooms and special activities in the months to come!

Joe Black Receives Local, National Honors

Joe Black Receives Local, National Honors
Residents work together in the Promise Neighborhood
Joe Black leads one of the Promise Neighborhood community meetings.

The Promise Neighborhood is applauding one of its own. Engagement Manager Joe Black recently was honored for his work in Cleveland Central with the Vibrant Civic Champion Award by Cleveland Neighborhood Progress.

Joe also has been selected by the National Urban Fellows for its Academic & Leadership Development Fellowship Program. This is a rigorous, 14-month graduate-degree program comprising four semesters of academic courses and a nine-month mentorship.

Joe will be doing that mentorship with the Promise Neighborhood program. The Sisters of Charity Foundation is pleased to support Joe in the program and grow his leadership skills to benefit the Promise Neighborhood.

Joe will spend this summer and next at Bernard M. Baruch College School of Public Affairs in New York City. The program culminates in a master of public administration. Graduates of this program include diverse public-service leaders who have gone on to assume influential positions across government, philanthropic, and nonprofit sectors.

Congratulations to Joe – the Promise Neighborhood is glad to see your hard work recognized and look forward to you completing your mentorship here!

Word from Lowell: All Black Men Aren’t MIA

All Black Men Aren’t Missing in Action When it Comes to Kids

Lowell Perry, Executive Director

Most of us hear all too often about how community organizations, churches and other civic groups are looking for African-American men to be more involved in their communities.

When I worked with Big Brothers Big Sisters, engaging more men of color to become volunteer mentors seemed as elusive as finding the mythical Loch Ness monster or Bigfoot. I have to laugh at that one, especially since the face of what it means to be a “big brother” was and still is an African-American gentleman and my Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity brother Mr. Dale Long.

If we relied just on the anecdotal information and statistics floating around the Cleveland area, we might reach the same conclusion about the Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood as far as men of color taking an interest in our youth. Are black men really missing in action in the Promise Neighborhood?

One way to change that perception is to talk more about the exceptions such as Men in Early Childhood group. They meet at Starting Point (East 46th and Euclid) every month. This is a collection of concerned black men who come together because of a mutual belief in the importance of early-childhood education in setting the trajectory for kids of color, especially young boys. All of the talk about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education means nothing if a child cannot read.

We dads have a greater impact on the learning of our children than originally thought. The Healthy Fathering Collaborative of Greater Cleveland shared an article, “Father’s Reading Matters,” that says research across the globe has found a “direct connection between fathers reading to their children and cognitive and language development, reading, school success, emotional health, and mental health.”

I am calling on men of color in the Cleveland area, especially fathers, to come see the impact that Men in Early Childhood is making in the community just by reading to kids through the Read2Me program at early-learning centers. The men volunteer to read boy-friendly books. Each volunteer spends 15 minutes reading with the children.

There also are a number of local organizations to which you can give your time, talent, and/or treasure to such as Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood, Men of Central, Council for Economic Opportunities of Greater Cleveland, and Cuyahoga County Fatherhood Initiative.

Men, those of you who don’t live in the Cleveland area, make sure to investigate how to get involved closer to where you live. The only option I am not providing is to do nothing.


Students & Community Plant Trees at East Tech

Students & Community Plant Trees at East Tech

IMG_0645Adults, high school students, and younger youth gathered in April to plant trees at East Tech High School. Organized by Do More 4 Good, the volunteers’ work will blossom for years to come. Check out some of the photos in this slide show: