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DC teacher gives elementary students 'self-care' day

'These kids face things you could never imagine, but they come to school every day and smile, so why not give them that joy?' Azel Prather Jr. says.

WASHINGTON — A D.C. school teacher is back on a mission to make sure students at a KIPP DC school in Northeast have a Christmas to remember.

Azel Prather Jr., who teaches pre-k and kindergarten at KIPP DC Arts and Technology Academy, is not only thinking about family and friends this holiday season, he's thinking about his students.

So on Wednesday, Prather decided to host a 'self-care day' for about 40 of his students.

His foundation, The Prather Foundation, has partnered with local barbers, beauticians and nail technicians to cater to the children just days before Christmas. 

"It's our Christmas hookup. We're giving out manicures, they're getting their hair done. It's just our way of bringing resources into the community," Prather said.

He explained that many of the children come from under-served communities, so it means the world to put a smile on their face. 

"If you look good you feel good, if you feel good you look good," Prather said. "They’re going to go into Christmas feeling good about themselves."

"Kids can be a little rough. They joke on each other. So just boosting the kids confidence and self-esteem is always good," said Joe Douglas, barber and owner of Not So Average Joes.

Credit: Azel Prather

Last year, Prather took to Twitter asking the public for help to grant the students with a merry Christmas. He was trying to raise money to buy toys for all 26 of his students but when the word spread, he surpassed his goal and ended up surprising all 340 students in the school with gifts.

"We’ve had Christmas experiences," Prather said. "We know what it feels like to wake up and get gifts, but a lot of [students] won’t. We try to bring that to them," he said. "It’s like a big joy factor for me."

Credit: Azel Prather

Not only is Prather helping the kids to feel special, he is hoping to accomplish the second year of surprising the entire school with gifts.

On Friday, Prather’s foundation will host its Third Annual 'Zelf on the Shelf', a holiday outreach initiative with KIPP DC ATA. About 340 elementary students will be surprised with a holiday celebration featuring music, interactive programming and a visit from Santa Claus. A truckload of wrapped presents will be waiting for the kids.

"I just look forward to seeing the smiles on their faces," he said. "We know what goes on. Sometimes the parents may be working a lot of jobs and they don't have the time to do it. "

Prather took to Twitter on Wednesday to thank everyone for assisting him with the self-care day for the students. Not only did the kids enjoy their special moment, one parent was almost brought to tears when she saw her child, according to Prather.

Credit: @Hail_Zel Twitter

"These kids face things you could never imagine, but they come to school every day and smile, so why not give them that joy?" he said.

If you want to stay updated with what other events The Prather Foundation will be involved with or want to help, click here.

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