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Fathers Matter Event Shows Need for Fathers Engagement

Fathers Matter

​Father Flanagan believed fathers played an important role in their children's lives. Throughout his lifetime, he was a 'father' to over four thousand boys and believed that, "Every father has a great responsibility in raising his son. In his hands rest, to a large extent, what course in life the boy will follow."

Father Flanagan's concept lives on today in the form of the Fathers Matter Day event. This local initiative was inspired by two national movements, the National Center for Fathering and the National Fathering movement, which promote the importance of active fathering. Fathers Matter Day is centered on a push for an increase in engagement from fathers.

Boys Town Iowa recently partnered with the Pottawattamie County Sherriff's Office to host the Fathers Matter event to engage the community. Pat Garcia, Community Engagement Developer, Boys Town Iowa Family Services and Lieutenant Sam Arkfeld from the Pottawattamie Country Sherriff's Office led the event held on Saturday June 10, 2017 in hopes of providing more than services, but rather a day to get fathers involved with their children.

The partnership between Boys Town Iowa and the Pottawattamie Country Sherriff's Office formed through mutual interest in a preventative measure. Through research, they found a large portion of families in the community were without a father figure.

"Nationally, one out of three children lives without their biological father in the home," Garcia said. "Children that grow up without a father figure are four times more at risk of living in poverty and engaging in crime."

Over 300 families and children attended the Fathers Matter Event at Tom Hanafan's River Edge Park in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Around two dozen community organizations were involved in the fun filled day and set up booths with various activities for families to participate in. The 27 different booths ranged from kite flying, to rocket launching and even included a hair stylist station to teach fathers how to braid hair. No matter the activity, all the booths focused on the idea of providing fathers with an opportunity to get involved with their children through fun activities to reestablish and build stronger bonds.

Boys Town Iowa has plans of continuing this event annually with the Pottawattamie County Sherriff's Office in hopes of involving the whole community while engaging families.

"Looking forward, we hope to utilize our Common Sense Parenting classes specifically for fathers in Pottawattamie County while raising awareness and providing avocation for fathering within the community," Garcia said.