August 24: A Celebration of Unity!
By Gary G. Toms
In response to the community’s losses incurred on September 11, and from the crash of Flight 587, The Rockaways will stage a celebration of resiliency, persistence and diversity at this year’s Multi-Cultural Family Festival. The event will be held on Saturday, August 24, at Bayswater Michaelis Park from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and will be co-sponsored by the Project for Rockaway Youth in Safety and Education (PRYSE); a coalition of 50 community organizations funded under a grant from the Safe Schools/Healthy Students Initiative and Weed and Seed, a United States Justice Department anti-crime program administered by the NYPD.
The Multi-Cultural Family Festival will provide a special forum for people in Rockaway to come together and celebrate the community’s recovery from the devastation of the past year, and to learn more about the cultures of its unusually diverse ethnic groups.
Fern Zagor, Project Manager for PRYSE, stated, "In recent years the community had been separated by cultural and ethnic divides. On September 11, and in the aftermath of the crash of Flight 587, many of our residents worked side-by-side to assist fellow Rockaway citizens. We think this festival is an excellent opportunity to salute our remarkable heroes and to forge the way for a closer-knit community. PRYSE coalition members will also be on hand to educate attendees about the many educational, medical, and mental health services that are available to the residents of the Rockaway community."
Activities planned for this year’s festival will appeal to all ages and interest groups. They will include free food, a multi-cultural music, dance and talent extravaganza, sports activities and seminars, and games for all ages.
Community based organizations and local businesses will man booths to provide information and referrals, and local politicians and sports figures are expected to participate.
PRYSE is part of a national project to help communities stop the increase in school violence and focus on the health of their children. The tragic events of Columbine resulted in Congress passing the Safe Schools/Healthy Students (SS/HS) Initiative, which provides federal grants to help communities to improve their school environment and the health of children and adolescents. Three federal agencies (the Department of Education, the Department of Justice, and the Health and Social Services Department) combined forces to sponsor programs across the country. Far Rockaway, led by the Addabbo Family Health Center, was the only site chosen in New York City.
The primary partners involved with PRYSE are: Community School District 27, the Joseph P. Addabbo Family Health Center, Inc., and the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice Coordinator. Other partners are Bank Street College, the Far Rockaway Inwood Ministerial Coalition, FEGS, NYPD, the Queens District Attorney, and the Rockaway Development and Revitalization Corporation (RDRC).
If you would like to obtain more information about the festival, or are interested in taking part in some way, please contact Shirley Cole, (718) 327-8306, at the PRYSE office.