A government initiative to inspire fathers motivated one school to run a program called Fathers@School which opened an opportunity for a church/school partnership. This experiri profile is from Term 1 2013 and was contributed by Chooi Seng Ong, Chaplain at St Andrew’s Junior School
What was the need or challenge being addressed?
The Dads for Life movement was a government initiative under the Ministry of Communication, Youth & Sport (MCYS). Dads for Life is a national fathers movement that seeks to inspire, mobilise and involve fathers to become positive influences in their children’s lives for the whole of their life. In 2009 MCYS launched a program in schools called Fathers@School that sought to mobilise fathers to be role models to their children and be more active in their children’s school life.
What was the response to the need?
The church saw this as an opportunity and partnered with the school in 2010 to launch the first Dads for Life event targeting the Primary Schools 4s & 5s (age 10-11). The initiative had three goals. 1. To build relationships between fathers and sons. 2. To equip fathers to raise their children. 3. To help fathers become more active in their children’s life. The program is packed with fun activities that encourage fathers and sons to work together and trust each other through a range of challenges. As part of the program, we have a treasure hunt to get both parent and child to learn about their school and chapel history. We also have a program aimed at equipping fathers with skills and methods to help their child grow. It gives them a broader perspective on fatherhood.
What was the impact?
On average we have over 90 parents with children at each event. The event is well supported by the parents of our boys who continue to come every year to find intentional meaningful time in fast paced Singapore. The smile on a tired dad’s face, the joy of challenging and beating dad in a race, the laughter of everyone, are a testimony to the positivity of the experience. Each year we have new dads eager and waiting to sign up to take part. We have probably one of the highest numbers of dads who are active in PTA meetings and school extra curriculum events nationally by percentage. The norm is that mothers are more actively represented at Meet the Parent sessions; at St Andrew’s we have a higher number of fathers.
What is the greatest challenges?
The challenge we have each year is to find new games that will be energising and stimulating for the dads and sons to play, while providing an even playing field.