by Sue Plastrik
Henry Ibrahim Datum came to the United States from Nigeria a year ago along with his 3 and 4 year old daughters. Coming from a West African society, where men aren’t traditionally involved in their children’s education, he never even thought about his role in his daughters schooling. But HIPPY changed all that. At the 25th anniversary celebration of the partnership between Bronxworks and NCJW-NY, Mr. Datum couldn’t say enough about how HIPPY taught him to effectively communicate with his girls. “Without HIPPY I would not have the relationship I have with them today, and for that I am entirely grateful,” he said. Mr. Dakum added that he was committed to teaching other fathers the importance of being actively involved in their children’s early education.
25 years ago, NCJW-NY and Bronxworks, a human service organization and settlement house in the Bronx, came together to bring the Home Instruction for Parents of Pre-school Youngsters (HIPPY) to the southwest Bronx, NY. Since then, the program has made its mark on the neighborhood, which has evolved in demographics and culture, to serve a diverse population and given parents and children alike a better experience as they navigate the educational process.
At the 25th Anniversary Celebration, held in New York on October 25, 2017, Soukaina Toure spoke about when a doctor diagnosed her son with a speech impediment that would slow his reading comprehension development. She was determined to help her son beat the odds, and that dogged determination led her to HIPPY. The techniques that she learned from the program propelled her son’s progress. He is now in the 1st grade reading above his grade level. Not only was Ms. Toure inspired to help her own son, she said that the HIPPY program helped her realize a passion for providing a good education to children from less fortunate backgrounds.
Keynote speaker Linda Frank, immediate past chairperson of HIPPY USA , cited examples of what HIPPY has done for parents and children since it first took hold in the US in the mid 1980s. She spoke of how the program has expanded nationally and abroad. Linda praised Bronxworks and NCJW NY for sustaining a relationship that continues to make an impact, despite cutbacks in funding, to sustain evidence based effective early childhood interventions.