Fathers’ relationships with their children are getting a boost in West Virginia from West Virginia University’s iFather program. iFather is a joint effort between the WVU extension program, and their College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences (‘CPASS’).
Explains the WVU page about iFather, “[iFather] creators designed the program to not only increase the time fathers spend with their children but to also increase quality time, specifically by encouraging playtime between fathers and children.”
The iFather program presently is available to fathers with children in pre-K up through second grade, and involves dads going into their children’s classroom and having healthy, bonding, physical activity with them.
The program is free. Byron Towner, one of the group’s coordinators, says that the iFather activities help to provide a holistic approach to helping increase a father’s activities and bond with their children.
Explains Towner, “We engage in activities that challenge the father and child physically, mentally, socially and emotionally.”
Adds Eric Murphy, with the WVU extension, and the primary iFather coordinator, “Play teaches children valuable lessons about relationships and the role of fathers.”
For the 2018 season, iFather has iFather sessions going on at various elementary schools in Monongalia County.
Explains Murphy, “A primary factor in keeping your child from becoming obese, to keep your child from getting involved in opioid addiction, and also from keeping your child from becoming depressed, is an active child is a happy child, and an active involved father is a man who feels affirmed.”
It is well-established that the lack of a father in a son’s life can lead to depression, addictive behaviors, and crime, and the lack of a father in a daughter’s life also makes the odds that she will become pregnant as a teenager more than double as compared to that where the father is still involved.
If you would like more information about the iFather program, or would like to volunteer, you can contact iFather at (304) 276-2761.