Dallas ISD’s All Pro Dad chapters will soon host an NFL-inspired draft to recruit parents to join the proactive fatherhood program. Approximately 40 campus chapters will participate in the event.
Members of each chapter will meet at South Oak Cliff High School on Oct. 15 to draft a team captain and co-captain who will represent their division and organize their events.
“We were able to have representatives from every high school feeder pattern,” said Thomas Garner, a coordinator in Partnership and Volunteer Services, who manages the All Pro Dad program for Dallas ISD. “We asked our Athletics departments to commit coaches at each school. It was a collaborative effort.”
All Pro Dad chapters participate in monthly mealtime opportunities – either morning breakfasts or afternoon hotdogs – for kids and their father figures to spend time together. In addition, team captains manage an online dashboard with activities for the group to share.
The national group was launched by the nonprofit Family First in 1987 with the help of Coach Tony Dungy, a former NFL defensive back and coach, and the first African American NFL head coach to win the Super Bowl.
In Dallas ISD, the All Pro Dad program kicked off at Kimball High School in September of 2018, with the first All Pro Dad draft. At the kickoff, more than 157 men from across the district signed up to support the program. Before the pandemic, Dallas ISD had 81 campuses participating in the All Pro Dad program. After Covid struck, 38 chapters continued with virtual programs, while others did not. But Garner is hoping to bring them all back to active status.
Derrick Battie, the community liaison at South Oak Cliff High School (SOC), currently serves the organization as the districtwide commissioner and spokesperson. He’s been working at SOC since 2003 and helped start the program at the high school. From using the robocall and messenger system to meeting in person, Battie uses every resource available to notify all parents – not just fathers — about upcoming meetings.
“We also want to recognize All Pro Moms who are having to do both duties. We find ways to reach out to them and support them,” Battie said. “They talk about different parental struggles that they’re facing and we want to keep it real. We make it simple so that our parents can understand that their role in academics, success, and safety is vital. I’ve seen tremendous camaraderie, particularly with our male African American parents from South Oak Cliff High School.”
For the last three years, Yolanda Mack has been crucial in the advancement of All Pro Dad’s mission. She is a parent education programs coordinator for Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY), the Dallas ISD home-visitation program that serves parents of children two to five years old.
Mack organizes monthly All Pro Dad meetings for fathers and children, featuring a presentation, activities for the children, and a task where the parent and the child work together. HIPPY home instructors inform the parents about the program during their weekly home visitations.
“I’ve been working with fathers through the HIPPY program for about seven years and wanted to do something with the fathers of the HIPPY program,” Mack said. “Before All Pro Dads, we only met with the dads a few times a year. I connected with All Pro Dads by stumbling across one of their events and that’s how I started working with them.”
For Dallas ISD HIPPY Director Kriston Jackson-Jones, the main priority is to support the emotional regulation and cognitive development of the children served. She has witnessed firsthand how establishing healthy father-child interactions at the earliest level develops quality relationships in the long term. And that’s why, over the years, she’s become an avid All Pro Dad advocate.
“We’re very intentional about ensuring that the father-child bond is very intentional,” Jackson-Jones said. “The feeling of having peer-on-peer support when fathers come together is unexplainable. They create a network, and one of the parents will speak out about an issue they’re having with their child or a guidance issue that we’ve encountered in the field of child development.”
This year’s draft will be held at 9 a.m. on Oct. 15, in person at South Oak Cliff High School and virtually at https://dallasisd.zoom.us/j/88082625887?pwd=aEkzTjZOOGVpL1pXSVdoRUpjc0ZCQT09. Please register before the event at https://forms.gle/pCKUWZ9wwnthYqm16.