In Newark: Washing machines as a way to fight school bullying

“Every School in the country needs to do this. You never know what the students are going through.”
#SpreadLove #WeTakeCareOfOurOwn – Akbar Cook

This is the thing about educators that somebody of apparently limited life experience like Chris Christie never understood: people who go into the profession of teaching young people so often concern themselves not only with the daily lesson plan but the lives of the kids in their charge – are they worried? safe at home? getting enough sleep before school? eating enough good food? getting bullied? This last part – bullying – is what Akbar Cook, the new principal at West Side High School in Newark is putting some work into.

Cook saw that students were missing school days because they weren’t able to keep their clothes clean – 85% of kids missing 3 to 5 days a month. It was embarrassing for them, and some were being bullied; students posting photos on social media of classmates’ dirty khakis or collars, kids teased when their clothes smelled. He wanted to remove that impediment to his students’ learning, for times kids couldn’t afford to wash their clothes or their living situation made that difficult. So he found $20,000 in grant money and transformed a football locker room into a little laundry center where his high schoolers can come in and do their laundry – for free. So simple. So brilliant. So thoughtful of the full lives of his kids. Cook says every school should do this, because “you never know.” I’m here to tell you that’s true. I live in Hunterdon, one of the richest counties in America, and I know some kids in a situation where this would help them.

Donations – Below, the story on ABC’s New York station, and here’s coverage at by Barry Carter. The laundry room is still in ‘soft opening’ before school starts, but people are already showing up to donate detergent, dryer sheets and other supplies. If you’d like to donate, I’ve put the contact info below the video.

If you want to donate:
West Side High School
403 South Orange Avenue
Newark, NJ 07103
Local Newark residents are already showing up with donated supplies of detergent, dryer sheets and other laundry essentials.

Comments (2)

  1. Brenda murphy

    I have a washing machine to donate .

    1. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      Hi Brenda – I think they already have the washers & dryers (5 each, I think) but I’ve put the contact info for the school at the bottom of the post, if you’d like to get in touch and talk it over with them. Thanks!


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