One man’s dad died when he was only 6-years old, leaving his mother to raise him.
Another dad said his father was always around and taught him about the importance of being there for his children.
A third man said it was his mother who was not in the picture, leaving his dad to raise three kids on his own.
No matter the background, these three men — along with other dads, community leaders and parents — came together Tuesday night to discuss the impact a dad can have on a child’s education and development.
“A father’s involvement is critical to a child’s academic, social and emotional well-being,” said Holly Zwerling, the president and CEO of the Fatherhood Task Force of South Florida.
The task force, which for about six years has worked to facilitate the involvement of fathers in the lives of children, held the discussion Tuesday at Albizu University in Doral to unveil a new film, Looking Ahead.
The 17-minute video includes interviews with fathers, mental health professionals and educators about father involvement and how kids can benefit from male interaction. The goal is to get the video to universities, schools and parent organizations across the globe.
“For me, its natural,” said Henri Francois, who has three children. He is part of the task force’s reading squad and often reads to children at Nathan B. Young Elementary in Opa-locka.
“There are children who don’t have their dads,” said Francois, who said his dad was always involved in his life. “Its nice to be able to help them.”
For Alvin Gainey, the chair of male involvement for Miami-Dade County’s PTA dads need to know that they should be involved “from day 1.”
He said his own dad was killed when he was 6 and he didn’t have a “model situation.” But he when found out he was going to be a dad he vowed to be a part of his children’s lives. He now has three kids 14, 9 and 7.
Although he said his responsibility as a father goes beyond helping just his own children, Gainey fought back tears as he spoke about a third-grader at Gratigny Elementary School.
“She came up to me and gave me a big hug,” he said. “When the other kids asked her why, she said, ‘that’s my Gratigny Dad.’”
Gainey said the girl’s dad was in prison and she didn’t have a role model.
“That’s why I do it,” he said.