West Virginia University Extension Service and partners are helping to improve the “father factor” in childhood development with nine “iFather” events in Monongalia County.

The iFather sessions take place at various area schools from October 2015 to April 2016 and are sponsored by the WVU College of Education and Human Services, WVU College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences, WVU Department of Special Education and the Monongalia County Early Childhood Program.

The events are free and open to all children in pre-K to second grade of participating schools, along with their fathers and father figures. Parents may register by contacting their child’s school.

The iFather programs take place from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on the following days and locations:

  • Oct. 27, 2015 – Eastwood
  • Nov. 5, 2015 – Ridgedale
  • November 2015 (TBA) – Mountainview
  • March 2016 (TBA) – Mylan Park
  • March 2016 (TBA) – Cheat Lake
  • March 31, 2016 – Brookhaven
  • April 7, 2016 – North Elementary
  • April 11, 2016 – Suncrest Elementary
  • April 13, 2016 – Skyview Elementary

Participants will divide into six groups and participate in a variety of teambuilding activities including scooter races, a kinetic station, a paper airplane station and a read-aloud. Pizza will be offered along with a chance to win one of several giveaway prizes including bicycles and WVU merchandise.

Eric Murphy, WVU Extension Service Monongalia County Families and Health agent, says the program activities are designed to not only encourage quality time between fathers and youths, but also to spark teamwork and positive learning experiences.

“Fathers are vital to their child’s growth both physically and mentally,” said Murphy. “We’re here to encourage necessary healthy interaction between fathers and youths and put the ‘father factor’ back into child development.”

Previously titled Fatherhood Field Day, the Monongalia County WVU Extension Office launched the first round of fatherhood programs across the state last year, in which more than 100 people participated. Although the program is a nationwide initiative, Monongalia County is the first in the state to participate.

Research from the National Fatherhood Initiative states that children living in homes without committed father figures face a number of risks that affect physical, economic and emotional wellbeing. The study found that consistent father-child engagement – even in nonresidential circumstances – was associated with better coping skills, academic learning and behavior management.

“Getting fathers engaged decreases risk factors in children that our community is often concerned about,” said Murphy. “Fatherhood is about more than simply bringing home money – it’s about being interactive, teaching discipline and being a positive role model for children.”

For more information on family and parenting resources, contact Eric Murphy at Eric.Murphy@mail.wvu.edu or 304-291-7201.



CONTACT: Cassie Thomas, WVU Extension Service
304.293.8735, Cassie.Thomas@mail.wvu.edu

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