Dozens of fathers participated in the Million Father March and walked their child or children to Stonehurst Hills Elementary School, in the Upper Darby School District, on Monday, the first day of school.

The Million Father March was started by the Black Star Project in Chicago in 2004 and has expanded to communities across the nation.

This year, Stonehurst Principal Aaronda Beauford announced the invitation to fathers of all 549 students to walk their child to school during an orientation day in August and sent out flyers for the cause.

“Our community means a lot to me,” Beauford said. “These families depend on every person to be a part of the educational process.”

According to Beauford, principal since 2014, having fathers involved is part of the process.

“And we want to show them our appreciation,” Beauford said.

“I’m an active dad,” Lawrence Camp, Sr. said. “I really like the idea and planned on it anyway. My son, Devin, is going to the Kindergarten Center and gets the bus here at school.”

Emmanuel Kollie, 24, has a six year-old son, Isiah, entering first grade and was holding hands walking on the sidewalk to school.

“Usually, I actually do walk him to school,” Kollie said. “I think it’s a good idea for fatherhood. The moms have all done a lot. This brings more love to the family with the kids seeing their father bringing them to school. It means a lot to the child.”

Anthony Jones, 34, says he wouldn’t miss the opportunity for the world.

“I took off from work to walk my daughter, Amore, to her first day of school for first grade,” Jones said.  “It’s good for fathers to get involved. This is a great turnout and I’m glad the fathers get a little more recognition. I love my daughter.”

Madeya Green, a district employee at Stonehurst, was giving out green badges of honor for the fathers to wear for their participation.

“It’s a wonderful idea,” Green said.

Chris Harper, 33, accompanied his daughter, Sarai, to school for her first day in second grade and waited with her and her mom, Shannon Sampson, in the auditorium until students were called to their classrooms.

“I just walked her to school with her mother,” Harper said.

When Beauford opened the front doors of the school at 8:30 a.m. she greeted her students and shook hands with the dads, expressing her appreciation for their involvement.

Chris Harper stoops down to whisper encouraging words to his daughter, Sarai, 7, with mom, Shannon Sampson in the background, on the first day of school at Stonehurst Hills Elementary School.

Chris Harper stoops down to whisper encouraging words to his daughter, Sarai, 7, with mom, Shannon Sampson in the background, on the first day of school at Stonehurst Hills Elementary School.

Stonehurst Hills Elementary School Principal Aaronda Beauford greets all children and families on the first day of school participating in the Million Father March. Standing with Beauford are (from left) Antonio Jones, 4, entering Kindergarten; his dad, Anthony Jones, and daughter,Amore, 6, a first grader.

Stonehurst Hills Elementary School Principal Aaronda Beauford greets all children and families on the first day of school participating in the Million Father March. Standing with Beauford are (from left) Antonio Jones, 4, entering Kindergarten; his dad, Anthony Jones, and daughter,Amore, 6, a first grader.

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