By Mary Frost
BOROUGH HALL — School hasn’t started yet, but three Brooklyn kids got an early start-of-school present yesterday.
Eight-year-old Lauren Cyrus, eight-year-old Julian Hernandez and nine-year-old Jazmyn Cyrus received sturdy new backpacks filled with school supplies, courtesy of the NAACP and its partners.
The kids, who joined elected officials and community leaders at a Back-to-School/Stay-in-School rally on the steps of Brooklyn Borough Hall, were the first of 2,000 students who will be receiving free backpacks and supplies. The filled backpacks will help equip students from low-income families to excel in school this year.
Borough President Marty Markowitz, Deputy Borough President Yvonne Graham, Brooklyn NAACP President Karen Boykin-Towns, state NAACP President Hazel Dukes, Congressman Ed Towns and other community leaders praised the annual effort.
“Brooklyn Borough Hall is proud to once again support the NAACP and its Back to School/Stay in School program,” said BP Markowitz. “From 500 backpacks handed out in 2006 to more than 2,000 again this year, this initiative has really gone to the ‘head of the class’ in supplying our children with essential back-to-school supplies.”
The Back-to-School/Stay-in-School Program is a 27-year tradition of the NAACP. Besides backpacks, the program provides support such as mentoring and after-school educational activities to low-income students, including those who live in shelters.
Brooklyn NAACP President Karen Boykin-Towns pointed out the historical importance of promoting education for all. “No matter how tough the economic conditions are, the NAACP will always help to provide educational resources for children in our communities. We are grateful to our partners for their commitment, and for helping us equip students with vital school supplies, so they can be motivated and well-prepared as they start the new school year.”
An important component of the program is facilitating greater involvement of parents in the education of their children – and, in increasing numbers, grandparents. Attending the event with Jazmyn and Lauren was their grandmother Dr. Eleanor Cyrus, who praised the backpack program and also the invaluable assistance she receives from the Emmanuel Baptist Church’s Grandparents Group. “Who would have thought that at age 65 I’d start all over again?” she said.
Sponsors of the event include the Brooklyn Public Library, G&B Foundation, Inner City Foundation of NY, Verizon, Walgreens and Walmart. Organizers include the Brooklyn Branch of the NAACP, the Office of the Brooklyn Borough President, and the New York City Department of Education.
Beneficiaries of the Back-to-School/Stay-in-School Program include the Graham Windham and HeartShare agencies, which provide a range of resources to poor children and families, including foster care and adoption services.
Photo: Eight-year-old Lauren Cyrus, eight-year-old Julian Hernandez and nine-year-old Jazmyn Cyrus received new backpacks filled with school supplies Wednesday. Also in photo from left (wearing a pink blouse) state NAACP President Hazel Dukes; Karen Boykin-Towns of the Brooklyn NAACP; (standing behine children) grandmother Dr. Eleanor Cyrus; Borough President Marty Markowitz, Congressman Ed Towns; Deputy Borough President Yvonne Graham.