(photo by Tim Jaynes, Staff)
SIKESTON -- Mother's Day may be just around the corner, but this Friday will be a day to honor several area fathers in a graduation ceremony for their completion of the Fatherhood First program.
"We try to enhance the skills of fatherhood in our classes," Vern Frazier, Scott County outreach coordinator, said. "We try to keep it interesting by bringing in presenters and incorporating important topics in each class."
The fathers meet Monday through Friday, four hours a day for four weeks. Approximately 12 people are usually enrolled in a class, Frazier said. Programs are held monthly for Scott, Mississippi and New Madrid counties.
The program provides education, training, information and encouragement to fathers and young men which will help them develop healthy and positive relationships with their families.
Several topics are covered during the course of the four-week program, Frazier said. Some of these include anger management, substance abuse training, budgeting and stress management. The program provides job readiness and job leads with local employers which, according to Greg Carr, is very useful.
"Just getting in on the computer was important," said Carr, who graduates on Friday. "We learned how to job-search and fill out resumes."
Carr also said he learned a lot about relationships and kids. As his class watched video tapes based on partner relationships, Carr said he learned how to deal with family situations and emotions.
Presenters from places like the Family Resource Center and the Delta Area Economic Opportunity Center are among the list of people who speak to the program participants.
Frazier said the program also provides an incentive for the participants. "If they complete the program, they will receive a $200-stipend," he said. "Of course, requirements must be met to receive the stipend. The graduates must not have missed more than three days of class. They must be attending their jobs regularly and cannot be under the influence of any substance."
The only requirement to join the program is that the participant must be at least 16 years old, Frazier said. The program is sponsored by the Missouri Bootheel Healthy Start. Currently there are two programs -- one in Scott County and one that serves Mississippi and New Madrid counties. However, Frazier said the Missouri Bootheel Healthy Start is trying to get the program started in Dunklin and Pemiscot counties, too.
Frazier said he receives positive feedback from graduates. "We give them surveys to fill out at the end of the four weeks," he said. "A lot of the graduates come back and tell me, 'I'm really glad I took this class' or 'Vern, you really made class interesting.'"
The graduation takes place at 10 a.m. Friday at Mission Missouri. The graduation will include participants from Scott, Mississippi and New Madrid counties. Each successful participant will receive a certificate stating that he has completed the Fatherhood First program.
New classes begin Monday for Scott County.