Fathers To Dads, Inc., a Houston-based nonprofit co-founded by President/CEO J. Scott Porter, aims to garner the signatures of a million men by Father's Day, June 17, 2012, in a nationwide initiative called "The Million Dads Pledge."
According to 2009 U.S. Census data, more than 24 million children nationwide grow up in a home without a father.
Porter calls it "the single largest crisis today, above AIDS and cancer."
In a U.S Department of Justice Special Report (Sept. 1988), statistics indicate that 70 percent of juveniles in state-operated institutions come from fatherless homes. A Center for Disease Control study indicates that 85 percent of all children that exhibit behavioral disorders come from fatherless homes, confirming the crucial role fathers play in the family.
In a call to action to fathers nationwide, Porter, a native of the Bronx, New York, has joined forces with Two-Time Olympic Medal Hurdler Terrence Trammel to charge a million men across the U.S. to take the "Dads Go Big in 2012 Challenge," a 12 step plan outlining simple ways for men to become engaged in the lives of their children.
The launch of the initiative stemmed from Porter's work as a former youth pastor and social worker where he noticed a common link in the young people who were constantly acting out or experiencing academic challenges.
"I started realizing that no matter what type of structure I was trying to give them, nothing worked, and that there was an underlying link - that 80 percent were going to a home with no father," said Porter.
Porter and Trammell, the organization's national spokesperson, along with co-founders, Leon and Sandra Jenkins, are involved in spreading the word across the country on the critical need of men to engage in the lives of their children.
"Having my dad there for nearly all of my practices, games and school functions that I was involved in, gave me all of the self-confidence and self-esteem that I could accomplish anything. I just want to do whatever I can to encourage fathers out there who may not currently have the best relationships with their children to put past issues behind them and reconnect with their children," says Trammell.
The gifted athlete credits growing up with a father who was "heavily involved in his life" as a youth as one of the most influential factors in cultivating his success in sports and more importantly in his life as a husband and father, today.
Prairie View A&M Assistant Professor Dr. Sandra Jenkins and husband Leon Jenkins, residents of Missouri City, hope the organization will enlighten fathers to the significant role they play in the lives of their children.
"My hope is that fathers would step into their roles and seek to be that positive influence in the lives of their children so they won't feel that sense of abandonment,"
Over the past decade, more men, even those who are in the home, are spending less time with their children because of work and other issues and are missing out on important milestones in their children's lives, for instance a ball game or a play, according to the Fathers To Dads organization.
"We are just trying to motivate men who are disconnected to get connected and men that are connected to go to another level in their relationships with their children," says Porter.
Individuals who support the Fathers To Dads mission and have signed up as speakers for the organization, include former Laker Legend A.C. Green, former NFL player and Ambassador for the Houston Texans, JJ Moses, Prairie View A&M Professor, Dr. Tyrone Tanner, Tuskegee Airman Dr. Calvin Spann, and renowned artist and sculptor, Tony Sherman, among others.
To take the 12-step-pledge, visit www.fathers2dads.org or for media inquiries, contact Scott Porter at 877-301-3777.
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Fathers To Dads, Inc. is a Houston-based (501c3) nonprofit whose mission is to improve the well-being of children by building community access networks for Dads, fatherhood programs and social services across the country. The organization also provides a list of renown speakers who are available to be booked for speaking engagements in support of the Fathers To Dads mission of encouraging fathers to take an active role in the lives of their children. For more information, visit www.fathers2dads.org.