Real Fathers, Real Men Program Helps Support Danforth Students
Published on 3/28/16
District News Danforth Magnet School
“They’re honest with us,” General Davis said of the 7th and 8th grade boys he regularly works with at Danforth Middle School, noting that the students openly discuss gangs, drugs, violence and other heavy topics with him. “When you bond with them, they open up.”
Through The Determination Center, Mr. Davis and his collaborator Greg Odum lead weekly lunches and after school enrichment as part of the Real Fathers, Real Men program. Their goal? To serve as positive and strong father figures to at-risk youth, most of whom live in homes with a single mother.
“Statistics show that without a father figure, boys are 20-30 percent more likely to join a gang, drop out of school… the list goes on and on,” Mr. Davis explained. “Our goal is to help these boys be successful.”
To encourage this, in addition to the weekly lunch meetings with their mentors, students are offered rewards if they do well with attendance, behavior and academics. Recent rewards include attending hockey games, movies and the MOST, going boxing, getting haircuts and more. Students say through these activities and the support of the mentors, they are learning the importance of working hard and following the rules.
“He’s like a second father, and he’s on my side,” eighth grader Jermaine said of Mr. Davis. “He teaches me to be respectful, pay attention in class and to go to college. We want all these nice things like cars and stuff, but we can’t do stupid stuff in school and still get what we want. We need to be a leader, not a follower.”
“He makes me think before I do something,” classmate Dametrius added. “My grades have improved, and he gives us fatherly advice. This group has really turned my life around.”
Mr. Davis said that having grown up in the same environment as many of the students he works with, he has seen firsthand the challenges of trying to stay on the right path. He has also seen the tremendous impact a positive male role model can have on a young man.
“All the experiences I’ve seen—we’re showing them, to give them 40 or 50 years of experience, so they don’t take the chances we took and so they can do better,” he explained. “Whatever they are missing, we try to fulfill it. We try to deal with their issues by giving them options and helping them out of it. The bottom line is: we want them to be successful.”
Thank you to The Determination Center and the Real Fathers, Real Men program mentors who are helping to build a strong foundation for these students.