10/11/05 — Program will challenge men to 'step up' to family duties

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Program will challenge men to 'step up' to family duties

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on October 11, 2005 1:48 PM

Daniel Hooper knows there is a huge problem in Wayne County with fathers not being proper role models. But knowing about the problem and changing it are two different things, said Hooper, who works as a parent involvement coordinator with Wayne Action Group for Economic Solvency.

"We could sit here all day talking about why fathers are not at home," he said. "We need to focus on a solution."

On Tuesday, Oct. 18, WAGES will hold a free seminar aimed at helping men becoming more involved with their families. It will be held from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. in the WAGES multi-purpose room at 601 E. Royall Avenue. Lunch will be provided. The theme for the day will be "The Character of a Man."

The keynote speaker for the event will be Reginald Speight of Martin County Community Action. Conference trainers at the seminar will include Jimmie Ford, a former Wayne County commissioner and legislator, Larry Alston of CADA Community Action, Inc., and Shealia Bazemore of the N.C. Department of Public Health.

Alston said the symposium is open to all men in the community, whether or not they are fathers.

"In general, it boils down to males, especially black males," he said.

Men can play a crucial role in a young person's growth and development, Alston said.

"Being a role model for youth, it helps the ones attending schools, helps increase the math scores. We have found it also helps with discipline problems, and has reduced a great deal of crime."

Ford said the underlying message will be helping young people develop self-esteem and a positive self-image.

"A person can do anything better if he or she gets to know themselves better," he said. "Let them know whatever they're doing is worthwhile.

"Sometimes we need to be redirected. A lot of times it's things they themselves know to do."

Even though a man has had troubles in his own life, he can still serve as a role model, Hooper said.

"It's important that fathers need not allow their past to hinder their progress," he said. "Realize they can overcome their past."

Ford said the goal is not only to build role models but to help men in the Goldsboro are improve themselves and their own self-image as well.

"I also see this as a second chance for the males," said Ford.

Hooper said the plan is to promote collaboration with other agencies in and out of the county.

"We hope to be a trailblazer from this program, spread it through the whole state," Alston said.

The unique training opportunity will be presented in a variety of ways, designed to not only impart information but through humor and fun exercises.

"We're hoping the participants at the end for the day will say, 'I'm so glad that I took part in this,'" Ford said.

Ford spends much time giving motivational talks, particularly in the schools. He said the fact that many young people lack a good role model concerns him. Ford said programs such as the one planned by WAGES can help change that. He cited a similar mentoring program developed at Brogden Middle School as particularly rewarding.

"Many did not have a father in the household," said Ford. "Because of the training, we changed some lives there in the young men."

Ford said he would encourage men in all walks of life to attend the workshop and take advantage of the opportunity it provides.

"I believe that it will make a difference in their life. It doesn't cost anything; just give us the time and energy for the day," said Ford. "That could be a day that will change the person for the rest of their life."

For more information about the symposium, call 734-1178.