Father's Day: Belle Isle event celebrates fatherhood and encourages engagement with kids

By David Sands  

On Belle Isle, Detroit's island park in the Detroit River, two local organizations are spending their Father's Day teaching other young men with children what it means to be a father.

They'll haul out the grills on Sunday for barbeque (Dad's favorite), face painting, hip-hop music, and a brief workshop, as well as educational literature, CDs and DVDs. It's the third year that Young Fathers Standing United has spent the holiday with an ever-growing family of young men and their kids.

Young Fathers Standing United enlisted the help of newyoungfathers.com who came aboard this year to promote and support their programming. Both are non-profit organizations seeking to deepen the bonds between young fathers and their children-- while passing along some valuable parenting experience along the way.

"There's a lot of resources for young mothers," André Dandridge of newyoungfathers.com told The Huffington Post. But he added that the two Michigan-based groups are the only ones he knows of that specifically address the needs of young dads with children.

His group, which operates out of Detroit and Lansing and has a national web presence, works with an estimated 500 young men a year through its workshops; addressing topics like responsible behavior, child support, anger management, paying bills and setting budgets . In one workshop, newyoungfathers.com leaders might address how the men cope with the feelings of disrespect a father feels if his child's mother leaves him for a new husband or boyfriend. The group aims the presentations at men under the age of 25.

Dandridge, who is the father of two girls ages 13 and 17, said he began drawing up plans for the group in 2005, after his uncle, Christopher Dandridge, brought an article to him about a young East Coast mechanic. The man had shot the two mothers of his children after receiving his child support order; killing one of them, then committing suicide. Dandridge and his uncle, both young fathers themselves, felt the situation could have turned out differently if someone had stepped in and tried to help.

Read more at HuffingtonPost.com

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