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All Pro Dad builds family relationships

October 10, 2018

GERING — Parents have an important role in their children’s lives and at Geil Elementary, they are helping parents strengthen their relationships with their children through the All Pro Dad program.

All Pro Dad is the fatherhood program of Family First and the mission is to help parents love and lead their family and be a hero to their kids.

First-year Geil Elementary counselor Matt Janecek participated in the first All Pro Dad breakfast in May 2008 after being inspired by Tony Dungy’s book “Quiet Strength.” During Christmas break that year, Janecek read about the program and decided to bring it to Northfield Elementary. He ran the program at Northfield for eight years and during that time, the average attendance was close to 60 people. After Janecek left for Torrington, he implemented a similar program at Trail Elementary before returning to Geil Elementary and starting it there.

“It’s just a fun way to start the day and it’s an opportunity for dads or moms or whoever to spend a little more quality time with their kid,” he said.

The Northfield Elementary program is still occurring, but is called All Pro Parents. Both programs encourage any significant adult in the child’s life to come with them and strengthen their relationship.

At the September gathering, 65 students and adults congregated into the library, which Janecek said was packed with people. Afterward, Geil Elementary Principal Angela Morris suggested moving to the cafeteria. Tuesday’s meeting attracted 88 people and was relocated to Geil’s cafeteria. The October meeting focused on the nine essential principles for developing a strong family.

“I’m really excited about the turnout,” said Janecek. “People keep showing up, which is awesome.”

After the dads and grandparents introduced themselves and the student they were with, Janecek introduced special guest Josh Hiatt. Hiatt, who is the Gering High School football coach, shared a message from the Tony Dungy program about ways to develop a strong family. After providing an explanation about each of the principles, he challenged everyone to talk with their children and identify one principle the dad is good at, one principle the kid thinks the dad is good at and one he can improve.

Scott Nowatzke and his daughter Shelby attended the Tuesday morning breakfast. Scott felt like the material was something they could use and the program is a great opportunity that the school offers.

“I think it gets you to build a relationship with your kids,” he said. “When they get older, it doesn’t get any easier, so you might as well start when they’re younger.”

Shelby said it was cool to have her dad with her at school and is excited to come to next month’s All Pro Dad breakfast.

Henry Campbell attended the All Pro Dad with his daughter Diniyah. He said they have had a strong bond since she was born and he enjoyed spending time with her before going to work. During the exercise, he said they realized they need to work on decreasing the amount of tablet time and have more meaningful conversations.

As preparation for the next meeting continues, Janecek said a new challenge will be setting up the projector and screen in the cafeteria when there is a video presentation. Still, he is excited about how All Pro Dad is making a difference in the students’ lives and the lives of parents, grandparents, neighbors and the community.

All Pro Dad meets every month on the second Tuesday from 7-7:40 a.m. at Geil Elementary.

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