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Fathers and children bond over sweet treats

Judy Centers embrace and support the men who matter

“It was awesome. It was amazing to see so many dads and to have a space to talk about different things.” 

- Joseph, father of a Curtis Bay Judy Center student

“The Cupcakes for Dad event was a great idea. I enjoyed having conversations with other men about how we as men can have an impact on our kids' lives and other children.”

- Allen, father of a child participating in Judy Center programs at the Abbottston Elementary Judy Center

Involved fathers make a dramatic difference in the academics and holistic achievement of their children.”

- Dr. Heather Lamb, Citywide Coordinator, City Schools Judy Centers dad and daughter

That space… the conversations… and involvement were the goals of the Cupcakes with Dads events in October at all 14 City Schools’ Judy Center Early Learning Hubs. More than 300 men - fathers and father figures, including uncles, godfathers, big brothers, and family friends -  came together for motivational speakers, trivia games, book readings, cake decorating, giveaways, and, of course, fun interaction with their children on October 18, which was also National Chocolate Cupcake Day.

“We wanted to celebrate fathers. And by coming together to share their experiences, these men were able to support and encourage each other in their roles as father figures. This is especially important for men who may be struggling with the challenges of parenthood, as it provides a sense of community and support that can help them through difficult times,” said Dr. Lamb. 

That support and encouragement was evident. A participant at the Liberty Judy Center agreed: “I have never attended something so powerful! I have never witnessed such great unity of Black and white fathers coming together for our kids.” 

Judy Center Early Learning Hubs prepare children for success in school and life by connecting families with high-quality, comprehensive early education services for children ages birth through five. Utilizing a multigenerational approach for families and children, and providing professional development for early childhood educators, Judy Centers help support all of the adults in a child’s early years.

Baltimore City Judy Centers are all located within City Schools and continue to hold events for fathers, so “we can be part of the catalyst,” said Dr. Lamb. For example:dad and daughter

  • At Abbottston Elementary’s Judy Center, men meet in a monthly M.A.N. Club (Men Are Necessary) to learn about school readiness and how they can support their young child and the young children in their community. In addition, they share ways to navigate society and remain mentally, financially, emotionally, and physically healthy for themselves and their family.  
  • At Commodore John Rodgers’ July Center, a newly-formed Dad’s group meets regularly to connect around their roles as fathers, discussing things like what self-care means to them. 
  • The Eutaw-Marshburn Elementary School Judy Center hosts a monthly Fatherhood program where guest speakers inform dads about the resources available to them. According to one participant, “I love all of the workshops that the EMES Judy Center offers my family. We've learned so much.” 
  • The F.A.N.(Fathers are Necessary) group at Liberty’s Judy Center helps fathers navigate being single Dads. They share experiences and gain knowledge about their children's growth in a welcoming space while learning that their presence in the school community is very important for all children, not just their own.

And it’s hard to turn down tasty cupcakes, too!

Read about summer activities at Judy Centers here.

Check out these recent Progress Report stories about City Schools’ early childhood education: