The Dads for Life Resource Team explores one of the many success stories that the Fathers@Schools programme has borne. Anglo Chinese School’s (Barker Road) Dads for Life programme co-ordinator Mrs Janet Ong reveals what gives the programme its impact and value for the students and dads in her school.
Over the last four years, ACS (Barker) has promoted Dads for Life@Barker intentionally, knowing that raising a teenage boy is never easy in our fast-paced society and dads play an important part in the lives of their sons.
This year, through online means and word of mouth, fathers were inspired, mobilized and involved to become good influences in the lives of their children/sons … for life.
ACS (Barker) rode on the Dads for Life initiative to engage dads and their children in a car decals creative activity. 1000 Dads-for-life car decals were distributed to students, staff and parents of ACS(BR). The idea was to set out to win as many weekly prizes in the Dads for Life Great Wall of Dads contest as we could, as we saw it as an activity which would help our young men bond with their fathers.
Our students were challenged to work with their fathers to come up with as many unique images as possible using the car decals. Our goal was to utilize whatever winnings we had from the contests to further bless others far and near.
The initial excitement was to win over $1500 worth of Ikea furniture vouchers so that Lee Ah Mooi Old Age Home could benefit from the delivery of new tables and chairs from Ikea. However, that did not materialize as there were only 4 best weekly entries and two consolation prizes. Nonetheless, we used whatever winnings we had to buy items for another group of beneficiaries – the 4-Square orphanage and some villages in Cambodia.
For many years, the school had been involved in an annual 5-day Father-and-Son OCIP trip to Cambodia. During the trip, many sons saw how their fathers worked to bring about significant improvements amongst the Cambodians and those less fortunate than themselves. It was an eye-opening experience for the Father-and-Son pairs in more ways than one. Not only did they share in blessing the Cambodians, they also bonded as fathers and sons as they went through the experience together.
As the Dads-for-Life@Barker co-ordinator, I feel that I have gained much when I see the boys growing closer to their dads through these activities. I find it a privilege to be involved in the programme. The experience is both humbling and empowering.
|OCIP annual trip to Cambodia for
father-son pairs to bond.
|Janet Ong and her colleague giving out
Dads for Life goodie packs to father-
son pairs from the new Sec. 1 intake.
The Dads for Life Resource Team also spoke to two dads of ACS boys to capture their thoughts on how they have been able to be a part of their sons’ lives in school, and what they have seen in the process.
Dad of two ACS boys in Secondary One and Secondary Three, Jeremy Tan, shared that he enjoyed one of the Father and Son trips to Cambodia. Jeremy said, “These trips are especially valuable for character building, and as a dad, I see them as a way to prepare our sons for service to others and to those in need.
Personally, going on this trip with my older son brought us closer. Physically working side by side, we gained insights into each other.
Jeremy is also active in supporting his sons’ school sporting endeavors. “We get to see a certain side of our sons, especially in sports,” he said. The benefit is not just witnessing them in person, as he reveals a community of dads that forms among the supportive dads.
For instance, when Jeremy is unable to be at a particular game, he says, “You can always count on other dads to give you insights on how your son is performing on the field, especially in pressure situations.”
The presence of the dads also enables the boys to develop a healthy approach to sports and life. “Whenever any of the boys lose their cool on the field, the dads can be there to offer perspective and support as the boys mature,” he said.
Another ACS dad is Alain Chan. His experience includes coaching boys for entry level competition. He finds that having the dads around cheering for the kids and volunteering to help in sports activities is a positive thing.
“The school does support and have an open concept in allowing parents to bond with their children,” Alain reveals. This encourages dads’ involvement, and allows dads to be able to identify what their sons are going through in school, as well as get to know their friends, what they like, and dislike.
“To be able to see them in school and see them address their challenges and teachers, and play a part in their growing up (in the context of school), and they know that their parents are there to support them. It makes for stronger connections between fathers and sons.”
To Alain, this understanding extends through the teen years, for instance through the sharing and recollection of milestones. These things help to forge the relationship between father and son. “You are there, involved in shaping them and helping them to grow. That is my greatest joy and deepest takeaway,” an appreciative Alain reflects.
About the Author: The Dads for Life Resource Team comprises local content writers and experts, including psychologists, counsellors, educators and social service professionals, dedicated to developing useful resources for dads.