Written by Keston Jones
A dad who is present and active in the lives of his children leads to better outcomes for the child, mother, and family at large. With this in mind, we at Healthy Start Brooklyn (HSB) are happy to announce the start of our In the Circle Fathers’ Program. Based on the 24/7 Dad curriculum, and developed in consideration of the needs of fathers living within the catchment area of the upcoming Brooklyn Neighborhood Health Action Center (formerly a District Public Health Office), we have begun offering parenting classes specifically for men. Classes will operate in East New York, Brownsville, and Bedford-Stuyvesant. Our goal is to educate fathers on how they can not only assist the mothers of their children while pregnant, parenting, and within the home, but also to provide them with community resources specific to their own needs.

The classes run for 10 weeks and cover a diverse range of topics, including family history, men’s health, communication, “Working with Mom and Co-Parenting,” discipline skills, nutrition, and “What It Means to Be a Man.” Thus far in our inaugural East New York class, located at Man Up Inc., the response has been great. As one participant stated, “It’s not every day we get to come together as men to discuss what are, at times, complicated issues. So I appreciate this class very much.” Overwhelmingly, the rest of our participants have offered similar feedback, with the youngest voicing his appreciation both for the facilitator and for his fellow participants, whom he considers mentors. Mentorship is among the greatest outcomes of the In the Circle program, for it allows those who may not have been as successful as a father the first time around to share these mistakes in hopes of steering others away from them.

Our first class was offered in East New York, and we will next offer a cycle in Bedford-Stuyvesant, followed by Brownsville, with the goal of rotating additional classes by neighborhood. We believe that when fathers have an environment where they can come together to discuss ways to become better role models and supporters of their families, they will also develop improved self-esteem, which is an essential component to becoming a more responsible, loving, and nurturing dad.

For more information and to sign up, call Keston Jones, fatherhood program coordinator, at 718-637-5327, or email him at kjones14@health.nyc.gov.

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