Harristown Dads Group strengthens relationships through play

Talking about the Fathering Project benefits are (from left) Clint Dawson with children Emmett and Bridie, David Janetzki MP, Paul Pennington with son Dexter, and Harristown teacher Lennie Currie.

A GROUP of Harristown fathers is strengthening the bond between themselves, their children, and their schooling community through The Fathering Project.

Harristown State School teacher Lennie Currie helped establish their Dads Group this year which will host a fun event each term.

They held a Paper Planes and Pizza afternoon at the school which was a great success.

“I ordered 17 pizzas and they were gone in the first five minutes,” Mr Currie said.

“The Dads and kids made paper aeroplanes and there were prizes to see who could fly the furthest, land on a target, fly through a hoop,” he said.

“Leading up to the event, there were a number of kids who said they wanted to come but didn’t have a Dad – so a lot of the male teachers took on that role and had about five children each under their wing.”

Member for Toowoomba South David Janetzki MP said The Fathering Project improved child development outcomes by engaging fathers and father-figures through evidence-based resources and activities.

“Dr Bruce Robinson started The Fathering Project because during his work as a cancer specialist he had to tell hundreds of men that they only had a short time left to live,” Mr Janetzki said.

“Most of the dying men expressed their regret, they wished they had spent more time with their children.

“I think it is wonderful Harristown has launched their Dads Group and I look forward to more schools in Toowoomba South embracing the project,” he said.

Dad Paul Pennington took his son Dexter and Dexter’s friend Robert to the Planes and Pizza event.

“The kids were pumped and had a great time making and decorating the paper planes,” Mr Pennington said.

“We also took along Dexter’s friend Robert, 8, whose Dad died from cancer last year,” he said.

“There were lots of Dads there but also male role models like teachers and older brothers for the kids without Dads.”

Mr Pennington enjoys quality time with Dexter by playing Minecraft (video game) together and making gaming videos for their YouTube channel Dex and Dad. The family also enjoys cycling.

Dads Group father-of-three Clint Dawson said the group also gave Dads a chance to connect with each other.

“It gives Dads an opportunity to communicate with other Dads about any challenges they are facing but also positive feedback too such as things that work for them,” Mr Dawson said.

“We also want to focus on providing male role models for students who come from broken families or single parent families,” he said.

“How we can encourage children to build an association with a teacher so that they feel comfortable enough to approach their ‘pseudo-Dad’ if they need to talk.”

Mr Dawson and his daughter Bridie, 10, enjoy mountain bike riding and racing together. He is also involved with the Toowoomba BMX Club where his son Emmett, 6, rides. His one-year-old daughter Leena is a bit young for the pedals just yet.

“I still have a really good relationship with my Dad and spent my weekends as a teenager helping him run the family business,” Mr Dawson said.

“I learnt a lot of life skills and that time together largely fostered who I am today, an accountant by trade,” he said.

“I think it’s important that children can recognise their parents as role models and not just the latest football star or movie star.”