"Daddy" to the Rescue
I declare war on poverty and cultural genocide. Somebody has got to do something and that somebody is me!...
Wellington Sharpe runs Nelrak Daycare Center with a passion and thatâ€™s how itâ€™s been since its inception 18 years ago. Mr. Sharpe, who lives up to his name in every way â€“ from his charismatic manner to his contemporary â€œGQ â€œ style, has all the attributes of a wall street tycoon or a real estate mogul. But if you look for Wellington Sharpe, you are most likely to find him among a group of pre-kindergarten children who he takes under his care at Nelrak.
As soon as I walked into the Center, I felt an atmosphere, quite the contrary to that of a school or an institution housing kids, but that of a relaxed yet well structured family place. The entire building is so clean you could â€œeat off the floorâ€? and there was clearly an atmosphere of professionalism and great courtesy.
Enroute to his office, Mr. Sharpe stopped off to visit one of his Pre-K classrooms. As soon as he stepped through the door, one of the adorable ones raced over with a huge smile, looking up into the eyes of this gentle giant with a hearty, â€œHi, â€˜Daddy!â€™â€? The young one was holding a card in his hand. One of the most beautiful I have ever seen. The outside was decorated with a vast array of carefully painted, brightly colored macaroni rings, strategically placed around the words, â€œHappy Fatherâ€™s Dayâ€? and the inside read, â€œThank you for being a â€˜Fatherâ€™ to usâ€? and â€œWe love youâ€?, ending with each child in the Pre-K classâ€™ signature listed down to the end of the card. Mr. Sharpe just stood there illuminating the whole classroom with his smiles. By that time, the entire class surrounded him with their faunlike eyes and beaming faces, anxiously hoping for a glance their way as Mr. Sharpe engaged them very attentively in a nice chat.
As we continued enroute to Mr. Sharpe's office, he shared with BSN, tickled with flattery, pride and joy, â€œThese kids own me!â€? he beamed from ear to ear. â€œWhat do you mean,â€? I asked. â€œA lot of the kids call me, â€˜Daddyâ€™â€?, he explained. â€œThey love coming here. When the parents come to pick them up at the end of the day, many of them donâ€™t want to leave. The parents have to chase them down to take them home.â€?
I asked Mr. Sharpe, out of all the careers he could have chosen, what influenced him to get into childcare. â€œThese are the formative years,â€? Mr. Sharpe explained. â€œFrom infancy to 6 is a crucial time in a childâ€™s development process. Itâ€™s like working with cement. When itâ€™s soft, you can work with it and easily mold it into shape. But if you sit back and let it harden, you have a really tough time with it and you have to break it apart. I get the children while theyâ€™re still soft and I mold them. Besides the usual recreational activities, which are also closely supervised and organized, we teach these Pre-schoolers up to 6th Grade, math, science, alphabet songs, colors, creative activities, reading and writing. They have a full day. We keep the classrooms small so every child gets the attention they need and deserve.â€?
But this was just the icing on the cake with respect to The Black Star News' meeting with Jamaican born Mr. Wellington Sharpe. Actually, the primary reason for my interview with Mr. Sharpe was to talk about his concern with the state of the Flatbush community and how the lack of services in the community has manifested into a genocidal attack on Caribbean-Americans and other immigrants who live there and work hard supporting this city.
â€œHealth care is a major concern with me", Mr. Sharpe shared with The Black Star News. "I was looking at the New York Community Health Profile figures from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Flatbush community has a 10% higher rate of AIDS than the entire City of New York, and a 15% higher rate of stroke. The health of mothers and children is a very important measure in the overall health of a community. Too many babies are born with low birth rates which can result in learning disabilities, health risks and other developmental problems. Ensuring that children get a healthy start and learn healthy behavior is crucial. We have to find a way to reach the people at the cultural level. Who is addressing these issues?"
"I found it very interesting" Mr. Sharpe continued, "that one in two residents of Flatbush is born outside the United States â€“ the top countries of origin being Haiti, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago. What I sense is happening is that a cultural dynamics is at play here, because these people, due to culture differences, have a different approach to seeking health care. Naturally, being that many are not documented, they are afraid to seek health care because of immigration status. We need sensitivity with regard to this. It would be much more acceptable if there were more sensitivity when it comes to health care for these people. If they are not coming in for healthcare, we should have public health nurses and doctors going into the community to help the people. Who is addressing this?"
"Education!" Mr. Sharpe exclaimed. "Most of us have no idea of the governmentâ€™s scheme for our demise through a new â€œCertificate Programâ€? which will no longer mandate our kids to finish High School with a diploma. We are being set up for intellectual slavery. This must be stopped â€“ NOW! Thereâ€™s such a lid on this scheme, if we donâ€™t become aware, it will happen right under our noses before we have a chance to say, 'NO!'"
â€œUnemployment and homelessness is another big concern of mine," said Mr. Sharpe. "We are the richest and most powerful country in the world. For us to have such a serious problem with homelessness and unemployment is absolutely unacceptable. We must launch an all out war against poverty. Iâ€™m not talking about violence, Iâ€™m talking about intelligent strategies to put an end to this. I admit, there is no quick fix. We must have a long-term plan.â€?
I asked Mr. Sharpe what his solution would be. â€œWe must have training centers and schools in Brooklyn to train our young men and women. Give them skills like welding, plumbing, computer science, electrician and such. Once they get skills they will be productive citizens.â€? Mr. Sharpe continued, â€œWhen many of our young leave school, they go hang out on the corners and eventually end up in jail because they donâ€™t know what to do with their time. Subsequently, they get into trouble and end up in jail. Itâ€™s human nature to be active. But if one doesn't know what to do, it is easy to find trouble to get into. These young people need something positive to do with their time. Stop building homeless shelters and jails and build schools and training programs and create positive situations for our young men and women.â€?
I told Mr. Sharpe that all sounds wonderful. But words are easy to say. I asked Mr. Sharpe how he proposes these plans be implemented. From â€œDaddy Daycareâ€? to Warrior King, Wellington Sharpe takes up the mighty sword, disclosing to The Black Star News, â€œOn December 29th, I declared my candidacy for the 58th Assembly District. I declare war on poverty and genocide. Somebody has got to do something and that somebody is me! Nick Perry has sat in that seat for 14 years and I havenâ€™t seen any substantial change he has made in favor of our people. We have got to put a stop to cultural genocide NOW!"
On the way out, I asked Mr. Sharpe if I could stop in and meet the children and one of the teachers. So we peeked in on Pre-K2. I met their adored teacher, British Guyana born, Ms. Kathleen Persaud, who has been teaching at Nelrak for the past 8 years. Ms. Persaud enthusiastically exclaimed, â€œEight years ago, Mr. Sharpe gave me a chance and employed me, and weâ€™re having a ball!â€? The reporter in me prompted me to ask one of the young ones a generic, â€œHow do you feel about your class?â€? The child briefly peered into my eyes while pondering an intelligent response. Not that any of these kids are lacking in articulation, but the child decided the best way to answer my question was to show me his work book reflecting his writing skills. It was quite amazing to see the advanced liberal arts skills of these Pre-Kindergarteners. The entire class received me like I was part of the family. They posed for pictures, and thank God for digitals! Right after every shot, somebody exclaimed, â€œLet me see!â€? The kids were adorable â€“ amazingly social and articulate.
They were very enthused about being in The Black Star News and most understandably, concerned that their names be spelled correctly. And to make it happen, the young students gathered around me and politely waited in turn to announce themselves and spell their names clearly for me. Mind you â€“ there was no teacher intervention during this interaction. It says a lot about what the young ones are learning at Nelrak. So, these are the celebrities of Ms. Persaudâ€™s Pre-K2 Class I met that day:
As I made my exit, without any coaxing whatsoever from the Teacher, the children randomly approached me, not with â€œBye Byeâ€?, but with a most adorable, â€œThank you for taking my picture.â€?
To learn more about Nelrak Daycare Center or Wellington Sharpe, call 718-230-0011, Fax: 718-783-8754 or e-mail email@example.com . Website: www.wellingtonsharpe.com
Brenda Jeanne Wyche, Advocate for Solutions and Results Â©2006 is Managing Editor for The Black Star News and Harlem Business News and CEO of Winning Strategies & Associates, a public relations company in New York City. If you have a solution, contact Brenda@blackstarnews.com . Perhaps we should talk.
To subscribe to or advertise in New Yorkâ€™s leading Pan African weekly investigative newspaper please call (212) 481-7745 or send a note to Milton@blackstarnews.com
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