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The Daily Plant : Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Parks Launches "Daddy And Me Adventure" Program With Canoeing Event On The Harlem Meer

Darryl Harris and his son prepare to canoe on the Harlem Meer on October 24.
Solita Alexander

On a weekend in late October, Parks launched “Daddy and Me Adventure,” a monthly program celebrating quality time for young urban fathers and their children, with a day of canoeing on the Harlem Meer in Central Park. This eight-session outdoor adventure program will run from October through May. The program will culminate in an overnight camping experience in Central Park.

A number of fathers attended the canoeing event on Sunday, October 24th with their children to spend time together out on the water.

“You don’t have this stuff regularly,” said Darryl Harris, from Brooklyn. “I really enjoyed the bonding with fathers and other families. I’m definitely speaking about it in my community. My friends all say, ‘if you’re speaking about it, then I’m going to do it.’ I’m going to make sure they come do this, too.”

“Daddy and Me Adventure” is just one of the many things that Parks is doing to engage fathers to help them play a stronger role in their children’s lives—physically, emotionally, and financially. Over the summer, the Parks Opportunity Program launched “Dads to Grads,” an educational service to help young fathers prepare for the GED exam. Annika Holder, Assistant Commissioner of Public Programs, and Solita Alexander, Director of Employment Services for POP, serve as the agency’s liaisons on the Mayor’s fatherhood taskforce.

The October day of fun on the water is a response to the Mayor’s citywide initiative to strengthen New York City families by helping fathers become more active in their children’s lives. Since the Mayor’s the launch of the initiative, city agencies have participated in a unified effort, including New York City Housing Authority, Human Resources Administration Office of Child Support Enforcement, Department of Youth and Community Development, Department Of Probation, and Health and Hospital Corporation, the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, to provide programming to make it easier than ever for fathers to engage in their children’s lives.

“Daddy and Me Adventure” will offer hiking, fishing, orienteering, team-building games, and wilderness survival. Sessions are scheduled once a month, during the weekend, and run approximately two hours. The sessions provide an introduction to parks and outdoor recreational experiences through structured activities that build connections. All activities are led by the Urban Park Rangers.

Just one session in, “Daddy and Me Adventure” is already a hit with its participants.

“I’m going to go back and bring 16 kids the next time,” said Anthony Waller, of Manhattan. “I really believe in doing this sort of thing.”

Every weekend, the Urban Park Rangers offer additional family bonding opportunities through outdoor recreation programs at parks and nature centers throughout the five boroughs. From hiking the John Muir Trail in Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx to star gazing through high powered telescopes in Fort Greene Park in Brooklyn or wilderness survival in Forest Park in Queens, there are ample opportunities for reinforcing family ties while enjoying the great outdoors in New York City parks.

“I’m so glad I never feel important, it does complicate life!”
Eleanor Roosevelt

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