From mental health issues to the trauma of incarceration, we often overlook the challenges and joys of the men in our lives. And that oversight can lead to issues in our families and our communities. That’s why ACER was excited to partner with Global Fatherhood Foundation on an event honoring International Men’s Day this month.
Twice every year, ACER organizes a Family Fun Day, and we believe that collaboration is essential to a successful community event. So when ACER program manager Aru Sasikumar found out that Sam Mwangi, Executive Director of the Global Fatherhood Foundation, was starting to plan for International Men’s Day she knew there was a chance to combine efforts — and advance health equity in our communities.
“With men’s issues, there’s immediate stigma,” Aru says. “There’s a tendency to just look at it through the lens of patriarchy, but when we work on men’s mental health, for instance, we can reverse that patriarchy and make our communities more equitable.”
“Men in so many of our communities are going through similar things: loneliness, social injustice, divorce and family challenges,” Sam says. “When Aru came on board, we started to think about the International Men’s Day event differently, considering how we could make it more inclusive and family-oriented.”
That reframe and focus on collaboration dramatically increased participation in the second annual event, drawing over a 100 people to engage in conversations and connect with resources, from Metro Transit to health resources. With such a wealth of partners — from COPAL to Siengkane Lao MN to SEWA — the event was so culturally diverse that Minnesota State Senator John Hoffman praised the organizers by emphasizing that “This is what Brooklyn Park looks like!”
For Sam, the event was a success not simply because of the attendance and awareness raised but because of the way the event came together. “We’re changing the narrative in the community that when we work together, we can go far,” he says.
This event would not have been possible without the dedicated efforts of all our planning partners. So we would like to extend our gratitude to: Siengkane Lao MN, Minnesota AGAPE Movement, Lao Center, USLAA, SEWA, COPAL, TaskForce Inc., Brooklyn Park City, Brooklyn Center City, Brooklyn Center Community Schools (BCCS), EC & FE Osseo Area Schools, and Africa Let’s Talk.