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Fort Macleod Kids First program helps dads and kids bond

PHOTO BY FRANK MCTIGHE, THE MACLEOD GAZETTE
Barent Goodrich plays with his son Jack during Daderday at Fort Macleod Kids First Family Centre.

PHOTO BY FRANK MCTIGHE, THE MACLEOD GAZETTE
Children use the Kids First Family Centre’s play area during Daderday.

PHOTO BY FRANK MCTIGHE, THE MACLEOD GAZETTE
Jesse Syrowitz with his son Sidney during Daderday at Fort Macleod Kids First Family Centre.

A Fort Macleod organization is providing a chance for dads to spend some quality time with their children.
Fort Macleod Kids First Family Centre stages “Daderday” the first Saturday of the month.
It’s a chance for dads, grandfathers, uncles and other care-givers to bring their children for two hours of unstructured play in the Kids First Family centre and W.A. Day school gymnasium.
“We wanted to give them an opportunity to come into our centre and play with our things,” Kids First’s Colleen Beck said. “We also wanted to create a social opportunity for dads.”
Stay-at-home moms and those on maternity leave frequent the centre during the day Monday to Friday for its programs.
Kids First staff wanted to provide dads an opportunity to utilize the centre on weekends.
“We see a lot of moms coming into the centre,” Beck said. “We weren’t seeing the dads.”
“We thought opening up on Saturday specifically for dads would be just great. And it has been.”
Five to 12 families have been taking part in Daderday, which runs from 10 a.m. to 12 noon and includes crafts, a snack and sometimes breakfast.
“We’re starting to get a little group, but we’re also wanting and willing to invite new dads in,” Beck said.
From time to time there are scheduled activities, such as inviting a hair stylist to show dads how to do their children’s hair.
Beck said it is important for dads to play with their children as a way to develop strong bonds.
Dads are also more inclined to get involved in rough and tumble activities than mothers, and that kind of play benefits child brain development.
“Dads just have the ability to come in here and play in a whole new way,” Beck said. “The dads create and find things that I can’t even think of.”
Back said not being too structured is a key part of Daderday’s success.
“We’re not sitting the dads down and preaching to them,” Beck said. “We’re giving them subtle tips and tricks.”
Next month, for example, Kids First will provide the dads with information on how to help children manage aggression.
Kids First makes sure literature on parenting is available for the dads who want to take it home.
Although Daderday is targeted for children up to five years of age Kids First is allowing older siblings to attend.
Jesse Syrowitz is one of the regular participants in Daderday with his 23-month-old son Sidney.
Syrowitz’s wife Candace was taking part in Kids First programs and recommended Jesse try out Daderday.
He was quickly hooked.
“We just kept coming and it has been a great experience,” Syrowitz said.
The Syrowitzes moved to Fort Macleod from Lethbridge three years ago, so Daderday allowed him to make contact with other men who are also dads and care-givers.
“By coming here it’s getting us more connected with the Fort Macleod community, building relationships,” Syrowitz said. “It’s really helping integrate us into the community.”
The Syrowitzes did not expect to find in a small town the many resources Kids First has available.
Syrowitz has found that since they started coming to Daderday, young Sidney has gained confidence, made friends and started to open up to new people.
Syrowitz, who has assumed a leadership role for Daderday for Kids First, encourages other fathers and care-givers to give the program a chance.
“The more people the merrier,” Syrowitz said. “It’s an amazing local resource that I would encourage people to take advantage of.”

PHOTO BY FRANK MCTIGHE, THE MACLEOD GAZETTE
Barent Goodrich plays with his son Jack during Daderday at Fort Macleod Kids First Family Centre.

PHOTO BY FRANK MCTIGHE, THE MACLEOD GAZETTE
Children use the Kids First Family Centre’s play area during Daderday.

PHOTO BY FRANK MCTIGHE, THE MACLEOD GAZETTE
Rough and tumble play is encouraged when dads are in charge at Kids First Family Centre.

PHOTO BY FRANK MCTIGHE, THE MACLEOD GAZETTE
The play area at Kids First Family Centre includes a climbing wall.

PHOTO BY FRANK MCTIGHE, THE MACLEOD GAZETTE
Jesse Syrowitz with his son Sidney during Daderday at Fort Macleod Kids First Family Centre.

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