Fathers cheer on nervous boy in touching back-to-school video: ‘You got this’

Philadelphia fathers comforted a scared elementary student with hugs and encouragement. (Screenshot: Twitter/Tori_Philly4)
Philadelphia fathers comforted a scared elementary student with hugs and encouragement. (Screenshot: Twitter/Tori_Philly4)

Philadelphia fathers visited a local elementary school, giving high-fives to students and cheering up one tearful child.

On Tuesday, eight men, some of whom were strangers, arrived at Allen M. Stearne School for an event called “Hi-Fives with Dads.” Their purpose was to greet children in grades K-8, as they returned to school, and provide encouragement for the year ahead.

The project sprung from a meeting between Jai Crabbe, a local homeless advocate and founder of the nonprofit D.O.P.E. (Doing Our Part Eclectically) and Dave Miller of the clothing brand Peace and Love Attire. The two had met to discuss branding ideas for Miller’s line and talked about their mutual passions: helping children.

Miller, 37, a father of 8, tells Yahoo Lifestyle that most students at Allen M. Stearne have low-income families of which fathers are either scarce or not recognized for their efforts. “Some of these kids don’t even have male role models,” he says.

The pair posted a Facebook prompt for neighborhood men to welcome kids to school. “Someone suggested we wear suits but that wouldn’t speak to an artistic kid,” Miller tells Yahoo Lifestyle.

Principal Mecca Jason tells Yahoo Lifestyle that the school holds annual back-to-school events, and the 2019 theme was, “A Whole New World.” Actors wearing Aladdin, Princess Jasmine, and Genie costumes stood at the school doors, while the group of fathers stood on a red carpet leading up to the building. They offered free school supplies, children’s shoes, and wristbands phrased, “It’s a good day to be D.O.P.E.”

Among the 200 children headed back to class was a 12-year-old boy named Ian, who recently transferred from another school. Crabbe’s camera caught the emotional boy’s first-day jitters as he hesitated to walk the carpet.

However, the dads surrounded him with encouragement and offered hugs. “It’s all good, big guy,” said one father. “You’ll do good things,” said another. “You got this, it’s all you.”

“We got the same sneakers on,” one dad pointed out. “Let’s do this!”

Smiling, Ian headed to class. The video of his encounter with the fathers has 46,000 Twitter views. “Absolute class,” read one of many positive online comments.

Crabbe tells Yahoo Lifestyle that she and Miller have formed a partnership called Mentourship to encourage male involvement in schools. “We’ll hold motivational assemblies, high-five events, and provide free school supplies,” she says.

“We’ve also pledged to informally adopt Ian, providing for his needs throughout the year,” says Crabbe. And this week, the partners will meet with The School District of Philadelphia to learn how they can help more children.

On Friday, the fathers had breakfast at school with Ian and his mother. Miller says, “She was really excited for him.”

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