In 1992, Hartford, Connecticut, parents came together and decided that – due to escalating gang violence, a lack of well-funded after-school programs and the missing structured afterschool programs in elementary schools in their neighborhood – a safe place needed to be created for kids to go before and after school. These eight parents banded together to create what is now known as Organized Parents Make a Difference, Inc.
According to PreventObesity.net Leader Sharon Tripp, the executive director of Organized Parents Make a Difference, Inc. (OPMAD), what started as a safe place to go after school has developed and evolved into a comprehensive literacy-based before and after school safe place funded by the Connecticut Department of Education and with money from the federal government.
OPMAD hosts programs focused on life skills, physical activity, cultural classes and academic programs. Today, OPMAD, has partnered with Hartford schools to feed the children breakfast and supper, and that relationship that OPMAD has developed with schools allows the school doors to remain open for the students in this program from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. each school day. OPMAD also hosts summer camps that are half-day and full-day camps.
The OPMAD programs have afforded the opportunity for the Hartford community’s parents and teachers to come together to create programs at schools for children in grades Kindergarten through 8th grade. According to the OPMAD website, “Each OPMAD program emphasizes local decision making at the school site through the Parent, Teacher Steering Committee. Board members are community members and parents of participating OPMAD schools. OPMAD gives parents and community members access to school sites through volunteer and educational opportunities.”
OPMAD’s mission is “to empower and unite parents citywide, to meet the academic, social, cultural, creative and physical needs of children through parent-driven, extended-day programs that nurture and encourage responsible citizens.” To learn more about the amazing impact that OPMAD has had on the Hartford community, visit their website.