OKOLONA – It is a simple solution to a serious problem and all it takes is a little time and patience.
The Fourth Annual Fishing With Fathers saw dozens of dads take part in a fishing expedition just outside of Okolona Saturday morning with kids getting a chance to fish and fathers and other male role models getting some quality time with youngsters. The event was hosted by Baby Steps.
“Baby Steps is all about empowering parents and getting parents involved in the lives of children,” said Dawn Weed, executive director of Baby Steps, an agency started by William Raspberry to teach and strengthen parenting skills. “We educate parents and children and getting parents to read to their kids helps them both.”
Weed said Saturday’s event has grown to become a favorite in the community and is effective.
“It’s really rather simple,” she explained. “We provide parents with a chance to take their child fishing and we give away books that we hope parents will read to their kids. And fishing is a great way to make a positive memory with their child.”
Fishermen gathered at Omar Moore’s pond on Moore Road to fish.
“Take all the fish you want, but please make sure you have a good time with your child,” said Moore a contemporary of Raspberry. “Bill always loved to come out here and I think he would be very pleased to know we are continuing his legacy.”
Raspberry, a Pulitzer Prize winning columnist with the Washington Post and native of Okolona, died last summer of prostate cancer.
“Getting men involved in the lives of their children is so important,” said Weed. “Men teach by example and this is the perfect opportunity to spend quality time with a child.”
Weed said Baby Steps recently earned a ESTRE grant from the Kellogg Foundation that targets 3-4-year-old, African-American, males.
“We will start the program with 15 kids and hope to get scholarships to include more,” said Weed. “This program will have an impact on education in Okolona.”
Weed said study after study shows the importance of reading to children and books were provided to parents before they hit the pool bank at Saturday’s Fishing with Fathers.
Weed said fishing also teaches patience and allows a parent to sit and explain the art of baiting a hook, casting a line and catching fish.
And there were hotdogs, potato chips and soft drinks, too.
Fishing With Fathers was open to children between the ages of 3 and 8. The only requirement was they be accompanied by a father, grandfather, mentor or male role model.
“We want to thank those people who helped with this event,” said Weed. “We especially want to thank those parents and children who showed up for Fishing With Fathers. This event grows every time we have it and we hope it will be bigger next year.”