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Territorywide Event to Celebrate V.I. Fatherhood

June 11, 2006 – Fostering a constructive dialogue about the importance of fatherhood is just one of the objectives of this Wednesday's seventh annual Fathers' Night Out. "It's really about starting a community conversation and saying, 'What are you going to do as an individual to help promote fatherhood?'" said event organizer Richard Brown.
Sponsored by the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands, Fathers' Night Out is a series of separate get-togethers taking place throughout the territory. According to Brown, individuals or organizations are encouraged to host their own small group to meet and talk about becoming better fathers. "It's about keeping the discussion going," Brown said.
While it's difficult to quantify the effect Fathers' Night Out is having, Brown says he's witnessed real changes taking place in the last seven years. "Before it was difficult to talk about the state of fatherhood in the V.I. without the discussion becoming angry; now the dialogue is constructive and really focused on improving the situation."
Although Brown is troubled by current statistics in the territory–according to the Kids Count 2005 data book, more than one out of three children in the territory are raised in households with female single parents–he said Fathers' Night Out is focused more on celebrating the positive impacts that involved fathers can have.
According to a recent release issued by the foundation, children with involved, loving fathers are more likely to do well in school, have healthy self-esteem and avoid high-risk behaviors such as drug use, truancy, and criminal activity compared to children who have uninvolved fathers.
Although Brown called the event a "symbolic way to recognize the importance of fatherhood throughout the territory," Fathers' Night Out is having a tangible effect on the community. Inspired by the first Fathers' Night Out, a group of 25 St. John men have been meeting regularly for the past six years to discuss fatherhood-related issues and concerns.
The "Ten Tips for Fathers" T-shirts being distributed by the foundation have also been a huge hit. "People are really clamoring for the T-shirts," Brown said, adding that they are a great advertisement for involved fatherhood. "Each T-shirt that you see in line at the post office or the grocery store is like a billboard that helps keep the topic at the forefront of discussion."
The 10 tips for fathers are: Be there; Listen; Support your partner; Disagree appropriately with your partner; Know and be known in your child's world; Know and be known to your children's friends and their parents; Play with your children; Teach by example; Discipline with love; and Keep your sense of humor.
Last year nearly 500 T-shirts, provided through funding from the Kenneth and Leitner Greiner Fund, were distributed.
Individuals who would like to give their father a T-shirt this Father's Day are welcome to pick one up at the foundation.
For more information on Fathers' Night Out or to host your own group, contact the Community Foundation at 774-6031.

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