It takes a special guy to be a good dad, and local organization Good Dads is working to help 417-land fathers become more engaged—one dad at a time.
Local psychologist Dr. Jennifer Baker noticed a common factor in national poverty and child well-being statistics: inactive fathers. “We hear about poverty, we hear about violence, we hear about learning difficulties, and we hear very little about how critical it is to have a father engaged in a child’s life,” Baker says. In April 2014, Baker met with community leaders to brainstorm solutions for Springfield. That meeting led to the founding of Good Dads. The initial goal was to promote engaged fatherhood. The organization began to pick up speed in August 2015 when Good Dads acquired office space in downtown Springfield and developed a strategic plan.
A Perfect Partnership
As Good Dads was gaining momentum, eight elementary schools in Springfield were working with another organization: All Pro Dads. Former professional football player Tony Dungy founded the national program. On the surface, the program is an opportunity for children to invite their fathers to eat breakfast with them at school once a month. In reality, All Pro Dads goes deeper to enrich the lives of kids and dads. At each breakfast, the attendees are presented with a discussion topic. Topics are meant to stir a meaningful discussion between dads and kids. According to Baker, the Good Dads organization spent its first months seeking out fatherhood efforts to support in the Springfield community. All Pro Dads seemed like a natural fit. The first step was to give the All Pro Dads Captains—the fathers spearheading each school’s chapter—a collective voice. The Captains came together for a Good Dads–sponsored breakfast in December of last year, and the partnership took off.
“You can tell it means a lot to the kids, and the camaraderie is so important,” —David Greer
Bring Your A-Game
David Greer, the current Captain at Weaver Elementary, has been involved with the All Pro Dads organization for three years. Greer was introduced to All Pro Dads through his work with the Caring Communities program at Springfield’s Community Partnership. Although Greer’s daughter won’t be joining him at events for several years—she turned 1 year old in April—he loves seeing the program’s impact. “You can tell it means a lot to the kids, and the camaraderie is so important,” he says. Greer also likes to see fathers of elementary-age kids stepping up. “It encourages you to bring your A-game,” he says.
Today, 11 out of 39 Springfield public elementary schools have active All Pro Dads chapters. According to Baker, the goal is to place chapters in at least half of Springfield’s elementary schools by the end of 2016.