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Rich Batten
Colorado Department of Human Services
303.866.3808
Maggie Spain
The Bawmann Group
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May 28, 2009

100th Anniversary of Father's Day Marks Local and National Commitment to Paternal Involvement: Never Has Fatherhood Been More Important

The first of 100 Father’s Days took place on June 19, 1910 when Sonora Smart Dodd of Spokane, Washington decided to honor her father. William Jackson Smart was a civil war veteran, a widower and single father to Dodd and her five siblings. Without his involvement, who knows what would have happened to Dodd and this national holiday. Sunday, June 21, 2009 will mark the 100th anniversary of Father’s Day and never before has the role of responsible fathers been more important.

Currently, 25 million American children are living apart from their fathers including two-thirds of African-American children. According to national research, children who grow up without fathers are five times more likely to live in poverty and commit crime; nine times more likely to drop out of school and 20 times more likely to end up in prison. Yet, as these grim statistics mount, a national trend is brewing to celebrate and encourage responsible fatherhood.

This year on Father’s Day, groups across the country will hold symposiums, conferences and events to celebrate dad. In Denver, the Be There for Your Kids campaign will host the 2009 Colorado Fatherhood Rally on Saturday, June 20 in the Meadows at City Park. Beginning at 10:30 a.m., the Rally will include a fatherhood recognition program featuring Colorado Governor Bill Ritter, Jr., Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, other notable fathers and the 2009 Be There for Your Kids Awards winners.

The Colorado Rally will also include a message from a rally taking place on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. The host organization for this event, the National Partnership for Community Leadership, has challenged more than one million fathers, fatherhood organizations and supporters across the country to come together and celebrate and encourage responsible fatherhood. Speakers for the event will include Ed Gordon, broadcaster and founder of Daddy’s Promise, U.S. Congressman Danny K. Davis and many more well-known fathers. President Barack Obama has also received an invitation to attend.

As someone who grew up without a father, President Obama is leading the charge for responsible fatherhood. He has declared the issue to be one of the top priorities of his administration. Through the Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, he hopes to support American fathers by encouraging good parenting and stressing economic stability and emphasizing personal responsibility for fathers. President Obama has also reintroduced The Responsible Fatherhood and Healthy Families Act, a bill he co-sponsored during his tenure in the Senate.

“Fatherhood is both a privilege and a responsibility,” said Rich Batten, fatherhood and family specialist with the Colorado Department of Human Services. “The fact that we are expecting so many people in Denver, in Washington, D.C., and at other events around the country, highlights a national commitment to paternal involvement. Everyone who is able to attend one of these rallies should in order to show their support for fathers and the future of American children.”

The 2009 Colorado Fatherhood Rally will provide fathers and children with an opportunity to support the issue of responsible fatherhood and spend quality time together. Family friendly activities including the Denver Public Library Reading Rocket, entertainment, volleyball/basketball, arts and crafts, the Denver Aquarium mascots, educational tents, giveaways and more will take place throughout the day. Local fatherhood programs and community organizations will also be in attendance to distribute information.

Parking for the event will be available at East High School and along the Esplanade leading into the Park. More information on the 2009 Colorado Fatherhood Rally can be found at www.coloradodads.com.

In October 2006, the Colorado Department of Human Services, Colorado Works Division was awarded a $10 million federal grant over five years to strengthen father/child relationships and improve parenting. Colorado is one of two locations nationwide, including Washington, D.C., to receive this federal community access grant. The Responsible Fatherhood Initiative distributes more than $1.2 million in community awards to state, community and faith based organizations to assist in providing direct services to fathers and families. Awards of up to $50,000 are distributed per program per fiscal year. For more information on a fatherhood program in your community, please visit www.coloradodads.com.