07/18/10 — WAGES program gets men involved with their children

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WAGES program gets men involved with their children

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on July 18, 2010 1:50 AM

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Kendrick Exum, a graduate of WAGES Male Involvement Group Program, pushes his daughter Zaria, 1, on the swings at Herman Park during WAGES Day in the Park. The program provides men with GED training, budget counseling, support and parenting/mentoring skills.

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Nevaro Pitt, right, guides the feet of Victoria Royall, 6, as they participate in a human wheelbarrow race during the WAGES Male Involvement Program Day in the Park at Herman Park Saturday.

Her hands loosely grasping a piece of a long yellow rope, Markayla McKinney started walking toward a pair of black tennis shoes resting on the middle of a field at Herman Park.

"Don't go past the shoes baby," a woman cried out as two teams comprised of children and adults tried their best to win a friendly game of tug of war. "Stop walking."

The little girl must not have understood the rules.

She's only 3 years old.

So when Markayla finally stepped over the shoes -- signifying a loss for her team -- nobody blamed her.

And one of her teammates, 6-year-old James Jarmond, wasn't quite ready to acknowledge defeat.

He just kept pulling -- even as the other team celebrated with cheers and high-fives long after those behind him had fallen to the ground.

That game of tug of war represented only a small portion of a day of fun at Herman Park sponsored by the WAGES Male Involvement Program.

And the event, designed to get the word out about the importance of male role models in children's lives, drew nearly 100 local residents.

Program director Nicholas Worrell said he was excited to see so many turn out for games, fellowship and food off the grill.

"We're always trying to involve fathers in the lives of their children," he said.

Fathers like Nevaro Pitt, who watched his daughters, Jaya and Maerah, try their hands at tennis.

"I go to the meetings every month," he said.

Something that his wife, Tory, fully supports.

"I think it's good for males to be involved in their children's lives," she said. "I just love it. I think (the program) is the best thing that could have happened in Wayne County."

But Worrell said the Male Involvement Program is not just for fathers like Pitt who might need some help learning a new trade, paying the bills or getting their GED.

It is also designed for those who wish to mentor a child in need.

"If I can help one man a week, that's my goal. I just want to help people," he said. "But a lot of these kids might not have a dad, so they need a role model."

Several men were on hand at the event, being just that.

Men like Worrell, who just wants "to make a difference."

"I love being an inspiration to the children," he said. "Having a male figure in their lives is powerful."

WAGES currently serves roughly 700 Wayne County families, and last year, the nearly a-decade-old Male Involvement Program assisted more than 120 men.