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Expanded initiative aims to get more fathers involved

June 5, 2018 GMT

Six-year-old Chelsea Showell is done with school for the summer but her father, Kirk Berry, is making sure her education extends beyond the classroom.

Berry, the director of Project Developing Acting Dads, or Project D.A.D., said he once again will take his daughter, who recently graduated from kindergarten, with him to work, events and his speaking engagements throughout the summer. The time together serves as a valuable example for her, he said.

“There are many things we can teach our children,” Berry said. “We can teach them basketball; we can teach them football; we can teach them lacrosse; we can teach them soccer. We can also teach them to be entrepreneurs and business owners and how to run companies.

“She still knows how to be a kid,” he added, “but at the same time she gets a living, breathing example of what it takes to one day be a boss.”

On Monday, Berry stood alongside Mayor Jim Kenney, Councilman Derek Green and Bilal Qayyum, president of the Father’s Day Rally Committee, inside the Mayor’s Reception Room in City Hall to ensure other fathers do the same for their children.

The 29th annual Father’s Day week of events put on by the Father’s Day Rally Committee will once again feature a picnic, photo shoot, and fatherhood awards ceremony and reception.

But this year, Qayyum said the nonprofit has teamed up with a handful of organizations to host a week’s worth of events and programs.

“We hope that we get more fathers to come out and get involved in the events,” Qayyum said.

The organizations participating in the week of events include Daddy University, Community Council Health Systems, the Strong Families Commission, the Institute for the Development of African American Youth Inc., People for People, and Mt. Airy Church of God in Christ.

Upwards of 60 percent of the families in the city live in single-parent households, the majority of which are run by women, said Rufus Sylvester Lynch, chairman and co-founder of the Strong Families Commission.

Joel Austin, president and CEO of the male parenting company Daddy University, said his organization holds classes, conferences and events throughout the year to support and teach fathers the art of fatherhood, from a young men’s conference to how to do your daughter’s hair.

“Times have changed; times have changed,” Austin said. “And unfortunately we have to organize and get together to make sure we are supporting the people who are supporting our children.”

The significance of a positive father figure in a household cannot be understated. Qayyum said children are more likely to complete high school and less likely to get involved in the criminal justice system if a positive father figure is in the house.

“If the father in the house, there’s a big difference in that child’s life,” he said.

Kenney praised the annual event, saying: “And really, this is what all of what we work on is about: It’s about having the ability for our children to meet their potential.”

The mayor added: “I think that’s very important, that we never lose sight of the fact that everyone in our society can play a role in a positive way.”

Green said being a father was the most important title he has ever held. He added that he believed the role of fatherhood was being embraced more today in the city than in the past.

“In the course of my travels throughout the city of Philadelphia, I’m seeing more and more young men be more engaged with their children,” he said.

If you go ...

The following is the calendar for the Father’s Day Rally Committee’s week of events, which will be put on in collaboration with the participating organizations. For more information, visit fdrcphilly.ticketleap.com.

Sunday, June 10: A Father’s Day church service will be held at 10:45 a.m. at Mt. Airy Church of God, 6401 Ogontz Ave.

Monday, June 11: A father’s photo shoot will be held at 6 p.m. on the front steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Tuesday, June 12: A panel presentation and discussion, titled “Voices of Men Who Have Experienced Family Disruption,” will be held from 6-8 p.m. at Belmont Manson, 2000 Belmont Mansion Drive.

Wednesday, June 13: The 22nd Fatherhood Awards Ceremony and Reception will be held from 5:30-8 p.m. at The View, 800 N. Broad St.

Thursday, June 14: The Fathers United Walk will be held from noon to 3 p.m. It will start at Broad and Susquehanna streets and end at Broad Street and JFK Boulevard.

Friday, June 15: The movie “Where is Daddy?” will be shown at The View, 800 N. Broad St.

Saturday, June 16: The Daddy Daughter Dance will be held from 6-9 p.m. at the Sugar House Event Center at 1001 E. Delaware Ave.

Sunday, June 17: The annual Father’s Day Picnic and Jackie Robinson/Roberto Clemente Unity Softball Game will held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Belmont Picnic Grove at Belmont Mansion and Chamounix drives.