By Jason A. Smith
McDONOUGH — Doug Stacy of McDonough came to Walnut Creek Elementary School to spend more time with his 8-year-old daughter Kaylee.
“Anything I can do to spend time with my daughter, I try to,” he said. “I think it’s important to get dads involved in their children’s lives as much as possible.”
They were among more than 125 people who took part in a new All Pro Dads program at the school Friday.
Third-grader Kaylee Stacy said she was happy to get some quality time with her dad.
“I like spending time with him,” she said. “He’s really fun to spend time with.”
All Pro Dads kicked off at the school last month. It is designed to encourage fathers to be involved in their kids’ lives, said Drema McCoy, a parent liaison specialist at Walnut Creek Elementary.
“We just think that a dad being involved in their children’s lives in a school setting is very important,” said McCoy. “The kids are so proud when their fathers come to something like this.”
All Pro Dads was launched in 1997. The nationwide program is sponsored by former Indianapolis Colts football coach Tony Dungy. McCoy said the program promotes communication between fathers and children.
She said kids and parents are excited about the program.
“We’ve even had mothers whose husbands told them how much they enjoyed the topics that were covered,” she said.
McCoy’s husband, minister Mike McCoy, leads each session of the program annd encourages fathers to tell their kids why they were proud of them and for both groups to do more to help Mom around the house.
He said All Pro Dads is not faith-based in nature but is increasingly needed in today’s world.
“Male leadership in the home, or the lack thereof, is the biggest issue in our culture today,” he said.
School counselor Tiffany Austin started All Pro Dads at Walnut Creek in January. She said it provides a way for fathers to connect with their children in a structured environment.
Henry County Schools spokesman J.D. Hardin said other local schools also maintain All Pro Dads programs. Those schools include Hickory Flat Elementary, Wesley Lakes Elementary, Luella Elementary, Flippen Elementary, Bethlehem Elementary, Rock Spring Elementary, Eagle’s Landing Middle and Henry County Middle.
Mark De Jarnette of Stockbridge attended Friday’s session at Walnut Creek Elementary with his 7-year old son Mark Jr., who is in second grade. The elder De Jarnette said he was curious about the program when he first heard about it and is glad to be a part of it.
“It acknowledges fathers,” he said. “They might need support also. We deal with the same types of issues.”