HAYWARD, Calif. (KTVU) - There was a celebration Friday morning at Hayward's Fairview Elementary school for an event called the "Million Fathers March." The event is part of a nation-wide campaign to encourage Dads and father figures, to play an active role in their kids' school careers.
The dads and father figures who took their kids to school this morning received the VIP treatment. There was a DJ playing music, coffee, snacks and pastries and a pledge wall the fathers were asked to sign. With their "autographs" they promised to stay involved with their kids' academic lives.
"It's a beautiful thing, a beautiful thing," said parent Marcus Washington. "We need to be more involved."
Washington drove to Hayward from Stockton to accompany his son, Marcus Jr., who is in the 3rd grade at Fairview.
"Me and him don't get to see each other that much, so I'm really happy that he came," said the younger Marcus.
The principal at this K-6th grade elementary school says he expected about 200 fathers and father figures to take part. Once the school bell rang at 8:30 a.m., the school library was packed with students and their dads, as they listened to a presentation from teachers and administrators about the benefits of being involved in the school community.
The Million Fathers March is a tradition that started with a non-profit organization in Chicago. It initially focused on the African-American community there, but the movement has grown nation-wide to include all parents interested in their kids' development.
"This is huge, just having a father figure involved in their lives makes a major difference," said Fairview elementary school principal, Brian White. "It boosts their confidence, it helps them academically. It's very, very important."
Gbenga Ibirunke came with his granddaughter to school this morning.
"It's great! It's about time everybody is included," he said. "It's my second time around. All my kids are grown, so I get to do it all over again. It feels good."
Many grandfathers, uncles and big brothers took part in the event.
Organizers handed out fliers with suggestions on what dads can do to be more involved. They included, volunteering with the school, keeping up with all progress and report cards and meeting with their child's teacher at least twice a year.