June 14, 2004 – Men throughout the territory will be gathering in small groups on Wednesday night and in coming days to discuss their roles as they relate to their children, partners and community.
The occasion is the 5th annual "Fathers' Night Out" presented by the Fatherhood Collaborative of the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands.
While groups of men meet on Wednesday evening, Addie Ottley will be covering the same topics on his "Face to Face" show at 8 p.m. on WTJX-TV/Channel 12 and DT44.
Richard Brown, Fatherhood Collaborative founder and coordinator, said the program was started in an effort to bring men together to talk and to encourage one another. "We need to become an activist society," he said. "To me, the silence is deafening in every sector of our community."
About half of the territory's children are living in homes without fathers, he said. According to the 2003 V.I. Kids Count Data Book, the most recent of the annual reports compiled by CFVI, 45.7 percent of children in the Virgin Islands reside with a female, single parent.
"Children with involved, loving fathers are more likely to do well in school, have healthy self-esteem and avoid high-risk behaviors such as drug use, truancy and criminal activity," a CFVI release states.
For Fathers' Night Out this year, Brown said, discussions will focus on the notion that men have a role to play. "It celebrates the men who fulfill their roles and encourages those who don't," he said. Topics will include the roles of men within the family and the greater community, and the choices that men make.
Brown said CFVI has chosen to focus on fathers because "involved fathers have a huge positive impact on their children and on our community." Fathers Day "celebrates the men who are fulfilling their responsibilities to their children, family and community," he said. "Fathers Day is also a reminder that too many men are not as involved as they should be."
Since the project started, up to 125 groups with as many as 30 individuals have taken part, Brown said. "I feel privileged to be able to do this small thing that hopefully will make a difference in our community," he said.
Men interested in hosting groups later in the month are asked to call the foundation at 774-6031. Group hosts can pick up "Ten Tips for Fathers" T-shirts for the men in their groups at the CFVI office in Royal Dane Mall on St. Thomas.
The 10 tips are:
– Be there.
– Support your partner.
– Disagree appropriately with your partner.
– Know and be known in your child's world.
– Know and be known to your children's friends and their parents.
– Play with your children.
– Teach by example.
– Discipline with love.
– Keep your sense of humor.
Individuals — youths or adults — who would like to give their fathers a "Ten Tips" T-shirt for Father's Day also are welcome to go by the CFVI office and pick one up. The shirts are provided through funding from an Annie E. Casey Foundation grant for CFVI's Fatherhood Collaborative. St. Croix and St. John residents wanting to obtain shirts should call the office to make arrangements.
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