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Back-to-school block party in Milwaukee's Harambee neighborhood prepares students for new year

Posted at 10:39 PM, Aug 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-20 23:41:04-04

MILWAUKEE — Bader Philanthropies, Northcott Neighborhood House, and West Care joined forces Friday afternoon to donate 500 backpacks filled with school supplies to families in the Harambee neighborhood.

Families gathered at the block party, feasted over free food and danced to a live DJ.

For many students, this upcoming first day of school will be their first time learning inside an actual classroom. Ajamou Butler, organizer of Heal the Hood, believes in-person interactions are pivotal for students.

"We have children who have had a dramatic loss of healthy relationship building, a dramatic loss of stimulation, human interaction, conversation, hugs and handshakes," said Butler.

Butler came up with a creative solution to teach kids how learn to play the drum at the event.

"The drum is the heartbeat, and so when I'm drumming with the kids, I'm connecting with them without words. We are connecting through sound," he said.

The goal of the party was to connect parents and kids with the community while also helping parents get school supplies.

Habiba Mohamed, mother of three, would have to spend a great deal getting her kids prepared for the first day back in school.

"It is too expensive to buy all the supplies and we appreciate the people that are out here and giving away," said Mohamed.

According to the National Retail Federation, a family could spend nearly $850 on school supplies in 2021.

"We are just trying to alleviate the pressure on parents," said organizer Tony Kearney of Northcott Neighborhood House.

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